Evolution in the colors of lyman break galaxies from z ∼ 4 to z ∼ 3 Academic Article uri icon


  • The integrated colors of distant galaxies provide a means for interpreting the properties of their stellar content. Here we use rest-frame UV-to-optical colors to constrain the spectral energy distributions and stellar populations of color-selected, B-dropout galaxies at z ∼ 4 in the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS). We combine the Advanced Camera for Surveys data with ground-based near-infrared images, which extend the coverage of galaxies at z ∼ 4 to the rest-frame B band. We observe a color-magnitude trend in the rest-frame m(UV)-B versus B diagram for the z ∼ 4 galaxies that has a fairly well-defined "blue envelope," and is strikingly similar to that of color-selected, U-dropout galaxies at z ∼ 3. We also find that although the co-moving luminosity density at rest-frame UV wavelengths (1600 Å) is roughly comparable at z ∼ 3 and ∼4, the luminosity density at rest-frame optical wavelengths increases by about one-third from z ∼ 4 to ∼3. Although the star formation histories of individual galaxies may involve complex and stochastic events, the evolution in the global luminosity density of the UV-bright galaxy population corresponds to an average star formation history with a star formation rate that is constant or increasing over these redshifts. This suggests that the evolution in the luminosity density corresponds to an increase in the stellar mass density of ≳33%.

author list (cited authors)

  • Papovich, C., Dickinson, M., Ferguson, H. C., Giavalisco, M., Lotz, J., Madau, P., ... Stern, D.

publication date

  • January 2004