James Webb Space Telescope Feed Post

Date: 6/10/2024

Harvard ADS: JWST view of three infant galaxies at z=8.3 and implications for reionization

Paper abstract: New JWST/NIRCam wide-field slitless spectroscopy provides redshifts for two z > 8 galaxies located behind the lensing cluster MACS J0416.1-2403. Both galaxies are strong [O iii]{\lambda}5007 emitters. For one galaxy, "Y1", the existing redshift z = 8.31, based on ALMA measurements of [O iii] 88 {\mu}m and [C ii] 157.7 {\mu}m lines, is confirmed. JWST/NIRCam images resolve this galaxy into three components of similar colors, and the whole system extends over ~3.4 kpc. The other galaxy, "JD", is at z = 8.34 instead of the previously claimed z = 9.28. It has a companion, "JD-N", at the same redshift with projected separation ~2.3 kpc. All objects are only moderately magnified and have intrinsic MUV ranging from -19.66 to -20.85 mag. Their eight-band NIRCam spectral energy distributions show that the galaxies are all very young with ages <~11 Myr and stellar masses about 108 M_{\odot}. These infant galaxies are actively forming stars at rates of a few tens to a couple of hundred M_{\odot} yr^{-1}, but only one of them (JD) has a blue rest-frame UV slope. This slope indicates a high Lyman-continuum photon escape fraction that could contribute significantly to the cosmic hydrogen-reionizing background. The other two systems have much flatter slopes largely because their dust extinction is twice as high as JD's albeit only AV ~ 0.90 mag. The much lower indicated escape fractions show that even very young, actively star-forming galaxies can have negligible contribution to reionization when they quickly form dust throughout their bodies.