CLEAR: Paschen- Star Formation Rates and Dust Attenuation of Low-redshift Galaxies Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract We use Paschen- (Pa; 1282 nm) observations from the Hubble Space Telescope G141 grism to study the star formation and dust-attenuation properties of a sample of 29 low-redshift (z < 0.287) galaxies in the CANDELS Ly Emission at Reionization survey. We first compare the nebular attenuation from Pa/H with the stellar attenuation inferred from the spectral energy distribution, finding that the galaxies in our sample are consistent with an average ratio of the continuum attenuation to the nebular gas of 0.44, but with a large amount of excess scatter beyond the observational uncertainties. Much of this scatter is linked to a large variation between the nebular dust attenuation as measured by (space-based) Pa to (ground-based) H to that from (ground-based) H/H. This implies there are important differences between attenuation measured from grism-based/wide-aperture Pa fluxes and the ground-based/slit-measured Balmer decrement. We next compare star formation rates (SFRs) from Pa to those from dust-corrected UV. We perform a survival analysis to infer a census of Pa emission implied by both detections and nondetections. We find evidence that galaxies with lower stellar mass have more scatter in their ratio of Pa to attenuation-corrected UV SFRs. When considering our Pa detection limits, this observation supports the idea that lower-mass galaxies experience burstier star formation histories. Together, these results show that Pa is a valuable tracer of a galaxys SFR, probing different timescales of star formation and potentially revealing star formation that is otherwise missed by UV and optical tracers.

published proceedings

  • The Astrophysical Journal

author list (cited authors)

  • Cleri, N. J., Trump, J. R., Backhaus, B. E., Momcheva, I., Papovich, C., Simons, R., ... Sturm, M. R.

complete list of authors

  • Cleri, Nikko J||Trump, Jonathan R||Backhaus, Bren E||Momcheva, Ivelina||Papovich, Casey||Simons, Raymond||Weiner, Benjamin||Estrada-Carpenter, Vicente||Finkelstein, Steven L||Giavalisco, Mauro||Ji, Zhiyuan||Jung, Intae||Matharu, Jasleen||Martinez, Felix||Sturm, Megan R

publication date

  • April 2022