Physical properties of spectroscopically confirmed galaxies at Z ≥ 6. I. Basic characteristics of the rest-frame UV continuum and lyman-alpha emission
Cohen, Seth H.
Windhorst, Rogier A.
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We present deep HST near-IR and Spitzer mid-IR observations of a large sample of spectroscopically- confirmed galaxies at z ≥ 6. The sample consists of 51 Ly-alpha emitters (LAEs) at z ≃ 5.7, 6.5, and 7.0, and 16 Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs) at 5.9 ≤ z ≤ 6.5. The near-IR images were mostly obtained with WFC3 in the F125W and F160W bands, and the mid-IR images were obtained with IRAC in the 3.6μm and 4.5μm bands. Our galaxies also have deep optical imaging data from Subaru Suprime- Cam. We utilize the multi-band data and secure redshifts to derive their rest-frame UV properties. These galaxies have steep UV continuum slopes roughly between ≃ −1.5 and –3.5, with an average value of ≃ −2.3, slightly steeper than the slopes of LBGs in previous studies. The slope shows little dependence on UV continuum luminosity except for a few of the brightest galaxies. We find a statistically significant excess of galaxies with slopes around ≃ −3, suggesting the existence of very young stellar populations with extremely low metallicity and dust content. Our galaxies have moderately strong rest-frame Ly equivalent width (EW) in a range of ∼10 to ∼200 °A. The star- formation rates are also moderate, from a few to a few tens solar masses per year. The LAEs and LBGs in this sample share many common properties, implying that LAEs represent a subset of LBGs with strong Ly-alpha emission. Finally, the comparison of the UV luminosity functions between LAEs and LBGs suggests that there exists a substantial population of faint galaxies with weak Ly-alpha emission (EW < 20 °A) that could be the dominant contribution to the total ionizing flux at z ≥ 6.