Volume 534, October 2011
|Number of page(s)||14|
|Published online||06 October 2011|
Dust-obscured star formation and the contribution of galaxies escaping UV/optical color selections at z ~ 2
Laboratoire AIM, CEA/DSM-CNRS-Université Paris Diderot, IRFU/Service d’Astrophysique, Bât. 709, CEA-Saclay, 91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France
e-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Laboratoire d’Astrophysique de Marseille, BP 8, Traverse du Siphon, 13376 Marseille Cedex 12, France
3 Max-Planck-Institute für Plasma Physics, Boltzmann Strasse 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 California Institute of Technology, MC 105-24, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA
5 Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, UMR7095 CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 98bis boulevard Arago, 75014 Paris, France
6 National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ, 85719, USA
7 Institute for Astronomy, 2680 Woodlawn Dr., University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
Received: 24 March 2011
Accepted: 31 May 2011
Context. A substantial amount of the stellar mass growth across cosmic time occurred within dust-enshrouded environments. So far, identification of complete samples of distant star-forming galaxies from the short wavelength range has been strongly biased by the effect of dust extinction. Nevertheless, the exact amount of star-forming activity that took place in high-redshift dusty galaxies but that has currently been missed by optical surveys has barely been explored.
Aims. Our goal is to determine the number of luminous star-forming galaxies at 1.5 ≲ z ≲ 3 that are potentially missed by the traditional color selection techniques because of dust extinction. We also aim at quantifying the contribution of these sources to the IR luminosity and cosmic star formation density at high redshift.
Methods. We based our work on a sample of 24 μm sources brighter than 80 μJy and taken from the Spitzer survey of the COSMOS field. Almost all of these sources have accurate photometric redshifts. We applied to this mid-IR selected sample the BzK and BM/BX criteria, as well as the selections of the IRAC peakers and the Optically-Faint IR-bright (OFIR) galaxies. We analyzed the fraction of sources identified with these techniques. We also computed 8 μm rest-frame luminosity from the 24 μm fluxes of our sources, and considering the relationships between L8 μm and LPaα and between L8 μm and LIR, we derived ρIR and then ρSFR for our MIPS sources.
Results. The BzK criterion offers an almost complete (~90%) identification of the 24 μm sources at 1.4 < z < 2.5. In contrast, the BM/BX criterion misses 50% of the MIPS sources. We attribute this bias to the effect of extinction, which reddens the typical colors of galaxies. The contribution of these two selections to the IR luminosity density produced by all the sources brighter than 80 μJy are on the same order. Moreover the criterion based on the presence of a stellar bump in their spectra (IRAC peakers) misses up to 40% of the IR luminosity density, while only 25% of the IR luminosity density at z ~ 2 is produced by OFIR galaxies characterized by extreme mid-IR to optical flux ratios.
Conclusions. Color selections of distant star-forming galaxies must be used with care given the substantial bias they can suffer. In particular, the effect of dust extinction strongly affects the completeness of identifications at the bright end of the bolometric luminosity function, which implies large and uncertain extrapolations to account for the contribution of dusty galaxies missed by these selections. In the context of forthcoming facilities that will operate at long wavelengths (e.g., JWST, ALMA, SAFARI, EVLA, SKA), this emphasizes the importance of minimizing the extinction biases when probing the activity of star formation in the early Universe.
Key words: galaxies: high-redshift / infrared: galaxies / cosmology: observations
© ESO, 2011
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