Volume 494, Number 2, February I 2009
|553 - 561
|04 December 2008
The physical properties of Lyα emitting galaxies: not just primeval galaxies?
INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via Frascati 33, 00040, Monte Porzio Catone, Italy e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Dipartimento di Fisica, Universita di Roma “La Sapienza”, P.le A. Moro 2, 00185, Roma, Italy
3 University of Massachusetts, Department of Astronomy, 710 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003, USA
Accepted: 27 November 2008
Aims. We have analyzed a sample of Lyman break galaxies from z ~ 3.5 to z ~ 6 selected from the GOODS-S field as , and i-dropouts, and with spectroscopic observations showing that they have the Lyα line in emission. Our main aim is to investigate their physical properties and their dependence on the emission line characteristic and to shed light on the relation between galaxies with Lyα emission and the general LBG population.
Methods. The objects were selected from their optical continuum colors and then spectroscopically confirmed by the GOODS collaboration and other campaigns. From the public spectra we derived the main properties of the Lyα emission such as total flux and rest frame EW. We then used complete photometry, from U band to mid-infrared from the GOODS-MUSIC database, and through standard spectro-photometric techniques we derived the physical properties of the galaxies, such as total stellar mass, stellar ages, star formation rates, and dust content. Finally we investigated the relation between emission line and physical properties.
Results. Although most galaxies are fit by young stellar populations, a small but non negligible fraction has SEDs that cannot be represented well by young models and require considerably older stellar component, up to ~1 Gyr. There is no apparent relation between age and EW: some of the oldest galaxies have high line EW, and should be also selected in narrow-band surveys. Therefore not all Lyα emitting galaxies are primeval galaxies in the very early stages of formation, as is commonly assumed. We also find a range of stellar populations, with masses from 5 108 to 5 1010 and SFR from few to 60 yr-1. Although there is no net correlation between mass and EW, we find a significant lack of massive galaxies with high EW, which could be explained if the most massive galaxies were either dustier and/or if they contained more neutral gas than less massive objects. Finally we find that more than half of the galaxies contain small but non negligible amounts of dust: the mean derived from the SED fit and the EW are well-correlated, although with a large scatter, as already found at lower redshift.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: fundamental parameters
© ESO, 2009
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