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The Atacama Large Millimetre/Sub-millimetre Array (ALMA) is obtaining the deepest observations of early galaxies ever achieved at (sub-)millimetre wavelengths, and detecting the dust emission of young galaxies in the first billion years of cosmic history, well in the epoch of reionization. Here I review some of the latest results from these observations, with special focus on the REBELS large programme, which targets a sample of 40 star-forming galaxies at z ⋍ 7. ALMA detects significant amounts of dust in very young galaxies, and this dust might have different properties to dust in lower-redshift galaxies. I describe the evidence for this, and discuss theoretical/modelling efforts to explain the dust properties of these young galaxies. Finally, I describe two additional surprising results to come out of the REBELS survey: (i) a new population of completely dust-obscured galaxies at z ⋍ 7, and (ii) the prevalence of spatial offsets between the ultraviolet and infrared emission of UV-bright, high-redshift star-forming galaxies.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
The star formation rate (SFR) is a fundamental property of galaxies and it is crucial to understand the build-up of their stellar content, their chemical evolution, and energetic feedback. The SFR of galaxies is typically obtained by observing the emission by young stellar populations directly in the ultraviolet, the optical nebular line emission from gas ionized by newly-formed massive stars, the reprocessed emission by dust in the infrared range, or by combining observations at different wavelengths and fitting the full spectral energy distributions of galaxies. In this brief review we describe the assumptions, advantages and limitations of different SFR indicators, and we discuss the most promising SFR indicators for high-redshift studies.
We investigate the evolution of the Hα equivalent width, EW(Hα), with redshift and its dependence on stellar mass, using the first data from the 3D-HST survey, a large spectroscopic Treasury program with the HST-WFC3. Combining our Hα measurements of 854 galaxies at 0.8<z<1.5 with those of ground based surveys at lower and higher redshift, we can consistently determine the evolution of the EW(Hα) distribution from z=0 to z=2.2. We find that at all masses the characteristic EW(Hα) is decreasing towards the present epoch, and that at each redshift the EW(Hα) is lower for high-mass galaxies. We find EW(Hα) ~ (1+z)1.8 with little mass dependence. Qualitatively, this measurement is a model-independent confirmation of the evolution of star forming galaxies with redshift. A quantitative conversion of EW(Hα) to sSFR (specific star-formation rate) is model dependent, because of differential reddening corrections between the continuum and the Balmer lines. The observed EW(Hα) can be reproduced with the characteristic evolutionary history for galaxies, whose star formation rises with cosmic time to z ~ 2.5 and then decreases to z = 0. This implies that EW(Hα) rises to 400 Å at z = 8. The sSFR evolves faster than EW(Hα), as the mass-to-light ratio also evolves with redshift. We find that the sSFR evolves as (1+z)3.2, nearly independent of mass, consistent with previous reddening insensitive estimates. We confirm previous results that the observed slope of the sSFR-z relation is steeper than the one predicted by models, but models and observations agree in finding little mass dependence.
Templates and models of galaxy spectra are often essential for determining the physical properties of galaxies. Many commonly used templates have large systematic errors, which significantly impact photometric redshifts and k-corrections. We present a new library of 110 galaxy template spectra spanning from the ultraviolet to the mid-infrared. The templates combine optical, Spitzer and Akari spectra with MAGPHYS models, all normalised and verified with matched aperture photometry. Our library contains more galaxies, spans a broader range of colours and has smaller systematic errors than previous libraries of galaxy spectra.
The evolution of galaxies is greatly influenced by their interactions. As part of a program to study interacting galaxies, we have measured and modeled the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) from the ultraviolet (UV) to the far-infrared (FIR). We describe the constraints imposed on star formation histories by these SEDs, and the variations therein seen across the interaction sequence, and we compare the results of different star formation rate prescriptions applied to the data. The sample itself is based on the Spitzer Interacting Galaxy Survey (SIGS) of 111 galaxies in 50 systems, a project designed to probe a range of galaxy interaction parameters in the infrared. Our SEDs combine the Spitzer results with multiwavelength data from other missions, in particular GALEX and Herschel. The subset presented here is the sample for which FIR Herschel observations are currently publicly available.
We present a simple, physically-motivated model to interpret consistently the emission from galaxies at ultraviolet, optical and infrared wavelengths. We combine this model with a Bayesian method to obtain robust statistical constraints on key parameters describing the stellar content, star formation activity and dust content of galaxies. Our model is now publicly available via a user-friendly code package, MAGPHYS at www.iap.fr/magphys. We present an application of this model to interpret a sample of ~1400 local (z<0.5) galaxies from the H-ATLAS survey. We find that, for these galaxies, the diffuse interstellar medium, powered mainly by stars older than 10 Myr, accounts for about half the total infrared luminosity. We discuss the implications of this result to the use of star formation rate indicators based on total infrared luminosity.
We present a simple, largely empirical but physically motivated model, which is designed to interpret consistently multi-wavelength observations from large samples of galaxies in terms of physical parameters, such as star formation rate, stellar mass and dust content. Our model is both simple and versatile enough to allow the derivation of statistical constraints on the star formation histories and dust contents of large samples of galaxies using a wide range of ultraviolet, optical and infrared observations. We illustrate this by deriving median-likelihood estimates of a set of physical parameters describing the stellar and dust contents of local star-forming galaxies from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Sample (SINGS) and from a newly-matched sample of SDSS galaxies observed with GALEX, 2MASS, and IRAS. The model reproduces well the observed spectral energy distributions of these galaxies across the entire wavelength range from the far-ultraviolet to the far-infrared. We find important correlations between the physical parameters of galaxies which are useful to investigate the star formation activity and dust properties of galaxies. Our model can be straightforwardly applied to interpret observed ultraviolet-to-infrared spectral energy distributions (SEDs) from any galaxy sample.
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