THE EVOLUTION OF THE GALAXY REST-FRAME ULTRAVIOLET LUMINOSITY FUNCTION OVER THE FIRST TWO BILLION YEARS Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • © 2015. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. We present a robust measurement and analysis of the rest-frame ultraviolet (UV) luminosity functions at z = 4-8. We use deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging over the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey/GOODS fields, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and the Hubble Frontier Field deep parallel observations near the Abell 2744 and MACS J0416.1-2403 clusters. The combination of these surveys provides an effective volume of 0.6-1.2 × 106 Mpc3 over this epoch, allowing us to perform a robust search for faint (MUV = -18) and bright (MUV < -21) high-redshift galaxies. We select candidate galaxies using a well-tested photometric redshift technique with careful screening of contaminants, finding a sample of 7446 candidate galaxies at 3.5 < z < 8.5, with >1000 galaxies at z ≈ 6-8. We measure both a stepwise luminosity function for candidate galaxies in our redshift samples, and a Schechter function, using a Markov Chain Monte Carlo analysis to measure robust uncertainties. At the faint end, our UV luminosity functions agree with previous studies, yet we find a higher abundance of UV-bright candidate galaxies at z ≥ 6. Our best-fit value of the characteristic magnitude is consistent with -21 at z ≥ 5, which is different than that inferred based on previous trends at lower redshift, and brighter at ∼2σ significance than previous measures at z = 6 and 7. At z = 8, a single power law provides an equally good fit to the UV luminosity function, while at z = 6 and 7 an exponential cutoff at the bright end is moderately preferred. We compare our luminosity functions to semi-analytical models, and find that the lack of evolution in M∗UV is consistent with models where the impact of dust attenuation on the bright end of the luminosity function decreases at higher redshift, although a decreasing impact of feedback may also be possible. We measure the evolution of the cosmic star-formation rate (SFR) density by integrating our observed luminosity functions to MUV = -17, correcting for dust attenuation, and find that the SFR density declines proportionally to (1 + z)-4.3±0.5 at z > 4, which is consistent with observations at z ≥ 9. Our observed luminosity functions are consistent with a reionization history that starts at z ≳ 10, completes at z > 6, and reaches a midpoint (xHII = 0.5) at 6.7 < z < 9.4. Finally, using a constant cumulative number density selection and an empirically derived rising star-formation history, our observations predict that the abundance of bright z = 9 galaxies is likely higher than previous constraints, although consistent with recent estimates of bright z ∼ 10 galaxies.

altmetric score

  • 22

author list (cited authors)

  • Finkelstein, S. L., Ryan, R. E., Papovich, C., Dickinson, M., Song, M., Somerville, R. S., ... Willner, S. P.

citation count

  • 330

publication date

  • September 2015