Broad-band study of the evolving emission-line properties of galaxies
Ferreira, João Pedro de Jesus
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This thesis describes a new approach to the study of high-redshift star-formation and its environments that can be applied to large high-redshift surveys.Instead of relying on spectroscopy or narrow-band photometry to study galaxy line emission in detail, the properties of large emission line galaxy (ELG)populations are estimated from broadband photometry by measuring colour-residuals against colours drawn from a set of line-free stochastic burst models-based on (Bruzual & Charlot, 2003).Simulated star-formation histories drawn from semi-analytic and adaptive-mesh-refinement codes were converted into mock galaxy colours, but neither could-span the range of observed galaxy colours at high redshift. Instead, an existing set of exponentially declining star-formation models with stochastic bursts was used, because it closely spanned the range in observed galaxy colours in the bandsthat were line-free at each redshift. Small colour offsets were measured between the models and the observations, corresponding to the equivalent widths (EWs)of Hα, [OIII] and [OII].In this way, I measure the rest-frame Equivalent Widths of the Hα, [OIII]and [OII] emission lines as they are redshifted through all filters from CANDELS(near-continuous U to 4.5μm coverage) for a large sample of galaxies from z=0.1up to z=5. This approach relies solely on the line-free models, a set of existing reliable photometric redshifts, and a colour cut (B−K<2 or equivalent) to select only the dust-free young objects (the majority of identified emission-line galaxies).Once correctly identified, I apply this method to the CANDELS-UDS photometry to characterise the properties of Emission-Line Galaxies (ELGs) through these lines.I find that in this sample the Hα and [OIII] ELG fraction with EW>150Årises from <5% at z<1 up to 40% at z>2. The co-moving ELG density rises from 5 to 30 ×10 −4 /Mpc −3 at z=2.3. The evolution of median Hα EW with redshift is consistent with results from HiZELS and 3D-HST yielding median EW ∼ M 0.25 (1+z) 1.75 up to z=2.3, from which it departs to values of 450Å atz=4.3. [OIII] remains weaker than Hα for z<3 and matches its values above that redshift. [OIII] also displays a larger fraction of extreme EWs than Hα. [OII],while correctly identified, never becomes as extreme as the other two lines lines,even when corrected for the evolving continuum.This is evidence of an increasing [OIII]/[OII] ratio with increasing z through-out this sample. While these results agree with spectroscopic and narrow-band surveys, the use of the deeper broadband filter coverage enables a systematic measurement of the increasingly prevalent high EWs (>500Å) in galaxies at every redshift spanning the 10 8 to 10 10.5 M range. Subsequently, this method was applied to all the other CANDELS fields (GOODS-South and North, COSMOS and EGS) and further corroborates these results. These results further show that EW dependence on mass is steeper for [OIII] than for Hα.Line EWs are then converted into luminosities for the three lines and fitting formulas are obtained, displaying L Hα ∼(1+z) 3.2 M 0.45−0.6log(1+z) , with similar results for the other lines. L Hα is converted into star-formation rate and specific star-formation rate (sSFR). sSFR at low-z aligns approximately with the main sequence (with a steeper dependence in mass), but at high-redshift sSFR remains above the main sequence by a factor of 2 and rising towards mediansSFR=100/Gyr around log(M/M )=9, showing a departure of the main sequence of star formation at lower masses log(M/M )<9.5. The SFRD of ELGs is 1%at low redshift, but rises to 30% at z=4.5. The L [OIII] /L Hα ratio is used to estimate L [OIII] /L Hβ and the ionization parameter q, for which the median atz>0.5 stays approximately constant at 10 8 cm/s, and increases with mass. Using the L [OIII] /L [OII] ratio and q, median metallicity is shown to be sub-solar, and can be tentatively estimated for z>0.5 to be Z/Z ∼0.3. The errors are large, but this could also mean a large range in metallicity from Z to 0.1Z . L [OIII] /L [OII]rises with sSFR as shown in the literature. This method shows great potential to survey emission-line-derived physical quantities for large galaxy populations with a low computational footprint, which could be particularly useful for pixel-by-pixel EW imaging. It is also flexibile, which allows it to be applied to any future deep multi-broadband fields.