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Stanway, Elizabeth R.; Bunker, Andrew J. (Andrew John); McMahon, R. G. (Richard G.) (2003)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: QB, QC
We determine the space density of UV-luminous starburst galaxies at z≈ 6 using deep HST ACS SDSS-i′ (F775W) and SDSS-z′ (F850LP) and VLT ISAAC J and Ks band imaging of the Chandra Deep Field South. We find eight galaxies and one star with (i′−z′) > 1.5 to a depth of z′AB= 25.6 (an 8σ detection in each of the 3 available ACS epochs). This corresponds to an unobscured star formation rate of ≈15 h−270 M⊙ yr−1 at z= 5.9, equivalent to L* for the Lyman-break population at z= 3–4 (ΩΛ= 0.7, ΩM= 0.3). We are sensitive to star-forming galaxies at 5.6 ≲z≲ 7.0 with an effective comoving volume of ≈1.8 × 105h−370 Mpc3 after accounting for incompleteness at the higher redshifts due to luminosity bias. This volume should encompass the primeval subgalactic-scale fragments of the progenitors of about a thousand L* galaxies at the current epoch. We determine a volume-averaged global star formation rate of (6.7 ± 2.7) × 10−4h70 M⊙ yr−1 Mpc−3 at z∼ 6 from rest-frame UV selected starbursts at the bright end of the luminosity function: this is a lower limit because of dust obscuration and galaxies below our sensitivity limit. This measurement shows that at z∼ 6 the star formation density at the bright end is a factor of ∼6 times less than that determined by Steidel et al. for a comparable sample of UV-selected galaxies at z= 3–4, and so extends our knowledge of the star formation history of the Universe to earlier times than previous work and into the epoch where reionization may have occurred.
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