James Webb Space Telescope Feed Post

Date: 6/10/2024

Harvard ADS: JWST and ALMA Discern the Assembly of Structural and Obscured Components in a High-redshift Starburst Galaxy

Paper abstract: We present observations and analysis of the starburst PACS-819 at z = 1.45 (M * = 1010.7 M ?), using high-resolution (0."1; 0.8 kpc) Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and multiwavelength JWST images from the COSMOS-Web program. Dissimilar to Hubble Space Telescope (HST) ACS images in the rest-frame UV, the redder NIRCam and MIRI images reveal a smooth central mass concentration and spiral-like features, atypical for such an intense starburst. Through dynamical modeling of the CO (J = 5–4) emission with ALMA, PACS-819 is rotation dominated and thus consistent with having a disk-like nature. However, kinematic anomalies in CO and asymmetric features in the bluer JWST bands (e.g., F150W) support a more disturbed nature likely due to interactions. The JWST imaging further enables us to map the distribution of stellar mass and dust attenuation, thus clarifying the relationships between different structural components not discernible in the previous HST images. The CO (J = 5–4) and far-infrared dust continuum emission are cospatial with a heavily obscured starbursting core (<1 kpc) that is partially surrounded by much less obscured star-forming structures including a prominent arc, possibly a tidally distorted dwarf galaxy, and a massive clump (detected in CO), likely a recently accreted low-mass satellite. With spatially resolved maps, we find a high molecular gas fraction in the central area reaching ~3 (M gas/M *) and short depletion times (M gas/SFR ~ 120 Myr, where SFR is star formation rate) across the entire system. These observations provide insights into the complex nature of starbursts in the distant Universe and underscore the wealth of complementary information from high-resolution observations with both ALMA and JWST.