Galaxies at redshifts 5 to 6 with systematically low dust content and high [C ii] emission

Abstract

The rest-frame ultraviolet properties of galaxies during the first three billion years of cosmic time (redshift z > 4) indicate a rapid evolution in the dust obscuration of such galaxies1,2,3. This evolution implies a change in the average properties of the interstellar medium, but the measurements are systematically uncertain owing to untested assumptions4,5 and the inability to detect heavily obscured regions of the galaxies. Previous attempts to measure the interstellar medium directly in normal galaxies at these redshifts have failed for a number of reasons6,7,8,9, with two notable exceptions10,11. Here we report measurements of the forbidden C ii emission (that is, [C ii]) from gas, and the far-infrared emission from dust, in nine typical star-forming galaxies about one billion years after the Big Bang (z ≈ 5–6). We find that these galaxies have thermal emission that is less than 1/12 that of similar systems about two billion years later, and enhanced [C ii] emission relative to the far-infrared continuum, confirming a strong evolution in the properties of the interstellar medium in the early Universe. The gas is distributed over scales of one to eight kiloparsecs, and shows diverse dynamics within the sample. These results are consistent with early galaxies having significantly less dust than typical galaxies seen at z < 3 and being comparable in dust content to local low-metallicity systems12.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Optical, [C ii] and continuum maps of the sources HZ1–HZ10.
Figure 2: IRX–β measurements of z > 5 objects.
Figure 3: [C ii] line profiles for the sources.
Figure 4: L[C ii] over LIR ratio as a function of LIR.

References

  1. 1

    Madau, P. & Dickinson, M. Cosmic star-formation history. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 52, 415–486 (2014)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Bouwens, R. J. et al. UV-continuum slopes at z 4–7 from the HUDF09+ERS+CANDELS observations: discovery of a well-defined UV color-magnitude relationship for z ≥ 4 star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 754, 83 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Finkelstein, S. L. et al. Candels: the evolution of galaxy rest-frame ultraviolet colors from z = 8 to 4. Astrophys. J. 756, 164 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Reddy, N. A., Erb, D. K., Pettini, M., Steidel, C. C. & Shapley, A. E. Dust obscuration and metallicity at high redshift: new inferences from UV, Hα, and 8 μm observations of z 2 star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 712, 1070–1091 (2010)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Boquien, M. et al. The IRX-β relation on subgalactic scales in star-forming galaxies of the Herschel Reference Survey. Astron. Astrophys. 539, A145 (2012)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Ota, K. et al. ALMA observation of 158 μm [C II] line and dust continuum of a z = 7 normally star-forming galaxy in the epoch of reionization. Astrophys. J. 792, 34 (2014)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Ouchi, M. et al. An intensely star-forming galaxy at z 7 with low dust and metal content revealed by deep ALMA and HST observations. Astrophys. J. 778, 102 (2013)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Maiolino, R. et al. The assembly of “normal'' galaxies at z = 7 probed by ALMA. Preprint at http://arXiv.org/abs/1502.06634 (2015)

  9. 9

    Schaerer, D. et al. New constraints on dust emission and UV attenuation of z = 6.5–7.5 galaxies from millimeter observations. Astron. Astrophys. 574, A19 (2015)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Riechers, D. A. et al. ALMA imaging of gas and dust in a galaxy protocluster at redshift 5.3: [C II] emission in “typical'' galaxies and dusty starbursts 1 billion years after the Big Bang. Astrophys. J. 796, 84 (2014)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Watson, D. et al. A dusty, normal galaxy in the epoch of reionization. Nature 519, 327–330 (2015)

    CAS  ADS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Israel, F. P. & Maloney, P. R. C+ emission from the Magellanic Clouds. II. [C II] maps of star-forming regions LMC-N 11, SMC-N 66, and several others. Astron. Astrophys. 531, A19 (2011)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Malhotra, S. et al. Infrared Space Observatory measurements of [C II] line variations in galaxies. Astrophys. J. 491, L27–L30 (1997)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Carilli, C. L. & Walter, F. Cool gas in high-redshift galaxies. Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys. 51, 105–161 (2013)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Díaz-Santos, T. et al. Extended [C II] emission in local luminous infrared galaxies. Astrophys. J. 788, L17 (2014)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Leauthaud, A. et al. Weak gravitational lensing with COSMOS: galaxy selection and shape measurements. Astrophys. J. 172 (Suppl.), 219–238 (2007)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Koekemoer, A. M. et al. The COSMOS survey: Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys observations and data processing. Astrophys. J. 172 (Suppl.), 196–202 (2007)

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Speagle, J. S., Steinhardt, C. L., Capak, P. L. & Silverman, J. D. A highly consistent framework for the evolution of the star-forming “main sequence” from z 0–6. Astrophys. J., Suppl. 214, 15–67 (2014)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Casey, C. M. Far-infrared spectral energy distribution fitting for galaxies near and far. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 425, 3094–3103 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Pettini, M. et al. Infrared observations of nebular emission lines from galaxies at z 3. Astrophys. J. 508, 539–550 (1998)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Gordon, K. D., Clayton, G. C., Misselt, K. A., Landolt, A. U. & Wolff, M. J. A quantitative comparison of the Small Magellanic Cloud, Large Magellanic Cloud, and Milky Way ultraviolet to near-infrared extinction curves. Astrophys. J. 594, 279–293 (2003)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Kong, X., Charlot, S., Brinchmann, J. & Fall, S. M. Star formation history and dust content of galaxies drawn from ultraviolet surveys. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 349, 769–778 (2004)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Charlot, S. & Fall, S. M. A simple model for the absorption of starlight by dust in galaxies. Astrophys. J. 539, 718–731 (2000)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Capak, P. L. et al. A massive protocluster of galaxies at a redshift of z 5.3. Nature 470, 233–235 (2011)

    CAS  ADS  PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Reddy, N. et al. GOODS-Herschel measurements of the dust attenuation of typical star-forming galaxies at high redshift: observations of ultraviolet-selected galaxies at z 2. Astrophys. J. 744, 154 (2012)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Leitherer, C., Tremonti, C. A., Heckman, T. M. & Calzetti, D. An ultraviolet spectroscopic atlas of local starbursts and star-forming galaxies: the legacy of FOS and GHRS. Astron. J. 141, 37 (2011)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    Scoville, N. et al. Dust attenuation in high redshift galaxies — ‘diamonds in the sky'. Astrophys. J. 800, 108 (2015)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    Förster Schreiber, N. M. et al. The SINS survey: SINFONI integral field spectroscopy of z 2 star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 706, 1364–1428 (2009)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Meurer, G. R., Heckman, T. M. & Calzetti, D. Dust absorption and the ultraviolet luminosity density at z 3 as calibrated by local starburst galaxies. Astrophys. J. 521, 64–80 (1999)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Díaz-Santos, T. et al. Explaining the [C II]157.7 μm deficit in luminous infrared galaxies — first results from a Herschel/PACS study of the GOALS sample. Astrophys. J. 774, 68 (2013)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    Planck Collaboration. Planck 2013 results. XVI. Cosmological parameters. Astron. Astrophys. 571, A16 (2014)

  32. 32

    Hinshaw, G. et al. Nine-year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) observations: cosmological parameter results. Astrophys. J. 208 (Suppl.), 19 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33

    Ilbert, O. et al. Mass assembly in quiescent and star-forming galaxies since z 4 from UltraVISTA. Astron. Astrophys. 556, A55 (2013)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34

    Steinhardt, C. L. et al. Star formation at 4 &lt; z &lt; 6 from the Spitzer Large Area Survey with Hyper-Suprime-Cam (SPLASH). Astrophys. J. 791, L25 (2014)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35

    Leitherer, C., Li, I.-H., Calzetti, D. & Heckman, T. M. Global far-ultraviolet (912-1800 Å) properties of star-forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 140 (Suppl.), 303–329 (2002)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36

    Buat, V., Burgarella, D., Deharveng, J. M. & Kunth, D. Spectral energy distributions of starburst galaxies in the 900–1200 Å range. Astron. Astrophys. 393, 33–42 (2002)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37

    Bruzual, G. & Charlot, S. Stellar population synthesis at the resolution of 2003. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 344, 1000–1028 (2003)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38

    Wang, R. et al. Star formation and gas kinematics of quasar host galaxies at z 6: new insights from ALMA. Astrophys. J. 773, 44 (2013)

    ADS  Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  39. 39

    Casey, C. M. et al. Are dusty galaxies blue? Insights on UV attenuation from dust-selected galaxies. Astrophys. J. 796, 95 (2014)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40

    Bouwens, R. J. et al. UV luminosity functions at redshifts z 4 to z 10: 10,000 galaxies from HST legacy fields. Astrophys. J. 803, 34 (2015)

  41. 41

    Shapley, A. E., Steidel, C. C., Pettini, M. & Adelberger, K. L. Rest-frame ultraviolet spectra of z 3 Lyman break galaxies. Astrophys. J. 588, 65–89 (2003)

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42

    Bouwens, R. J. et al. Very blue UV-continuum slope β of low luminosity z 7 galaxies from WFC3/IR: evidence for extremely low metallicities? Astrophys. J. 708, L69–L73 (2010)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43

    Rogers, A. B. et al. The colour distribution of galaxies at redshift five. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 440, 3714–3725 (2014)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44

    De Looze, I., Baes, M., Bendo, G. J., Cortese, L. & Fritz, J. The reliability of [C ii] as an indicator of the star formation rate. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 416, 2712–2724 (2011)

    CAS  ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Support for this work was provided by NASA through an award issued by JPL/Caltech. We thank the ALMA staff for facilitating the observations and aiding in the calibration and reduction process. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada) and NSC and ASIAA (Taiwan), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ. This work is based in part on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope and the W.M. Keck Observatory, along with archival data from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the Subaru Telescope, the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope and the ESO Vista telescope obtained from the NASA/IPAC Infrared Science Archive. V.S. acknowledges funding by the European Union’s Seventh Framework programme under grant agreement 337595 (ERC Starting Grant, ‘CoSMass’).

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

P.L.C. proposed and carried out the observations, conducted the analysis in this paper, and authored the majority of the text. C.C., G.J. and K.S. carried out the reduction and direct analysis of the ALMA data. C.M.C. consulted on the spectral energy distribution fitting and interpretation of the data, and also conducted a blind test of the FIR luminosity, [C ii] line luminosity, and β measurements, along with testing for sample selection effects. D.R. conducted the spectral line analysis and carried out an independent blind check of the ALMA data reduction. O.I. carried out the spectral energy distribution fitting and consulted on their interpretation. C.M.C., A.K., O.L., S.L., N.S., V.S. and L.Y. contributed to the overall interpretation of the results and various aspects of the analysis.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to P. L. Capak.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

This paper makes use of ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#2012.1.00523.S. ALMA.

Extended data figures and tables

Extended Data Figure 1 [C ii] flux as a function of total star-formation rate, SFR.

Our sample is consistent with the low-z SFR–L[C ii] relation from the literature at z = 0–6 (ref. 6). The best fit to the literature points from ref. 44 is indicated with a solid line. The SFRs are derived using the UV + FIR method and a Chabrier IMF18. The dust-corrected ultraviolet estimates with a Meurer relation typically used at these redshifts would increase the estimated SFR by a factor of 2–10 (0.5–1 dex), leading to over-estimates of the expected [C ii] flux. The L[C ii] error bars are 1σ standard measurement error, while the SFR errors are 1σ from a combination of measurement error in LIR and LUV converted to star formation added in quadrature.

Extended Data Figure 2 Star-formation rate as a function of stellar mass.

Our objects are generally consistent with the stellar mass-SFR or ‘main sequence’ of star forming galaxies at z ≈ 5–6 (ref. 18). Three objects fall below the relation, namely HZ1, HZ2 and HZ3, but the stellar mass of HZ1 may be over-estimated (‘Derivation of physical parameters’ in Methods). Mass errors reflect the 1σ range of masses allowed by the SED model fits including emission line strength as a free parameter. SFR errors are 1σ from a combination of measurement error in LIR, systematics in LIR, and measurement error in LUV converted to star formation added in quadrature.

Extended Data Figure 3 Dynamical mass compared with stellar mass.

A comparison of the dynamical masses estimated from the [C ii] line and stellar masses estimated from SED fitting is shown. The dotted line indicates equal stellar and dynamical masses. The average dynamic to stellar mass ratio is 3, which is higher than, but consistent with, similar measurements at z ≈ 1–3 (ref. 28). Errors on the dynamical masses reflect the 1σ measurement uncertainty in the size, and velocity dispersion of the sources, but the geometry is limited to sin(i) = 0.45–1 (‘Derivation of physical parameters’ in Methods). The errors on the stellar masses reflect the 1σ range of masses allowed by the SED model fits including emission line strength as a free parameter.

Extended Data Figure 4 The star-formation rate history of the Universe.

The global SFR history at z > 4 derived from UV measurements2 is shown for three different assumptions about the dust obscuration in the general galaxy population. Blue, no correction for dust (‘direct UV measurements’ in key); red, a dust correction assuming the Meurer relation29 (‘UV corrected with Meurer et al.’); green, a correction which linearly evolves in redshift between a Meurer relation at z ≈ 4, the SMC-like relation at z ≈ 5, and our measured value at z ≈ 6 (‘UV corrected with evolving dust’). Note the evolving dust correction leads to a downward revision by 30–40% at z ≈ 6. Redshift error bars reflect the binning of the data, errors in the SFR density reflect the 1σ measurement error in the ultraviolet luminosity density.

Extended Data Table 1 Measured source properties
Extended Data Table 2 Gaussian fits to ALMA [C ii] moment zero images
Extended Data Table 3 De-convolved sizes of [C ii] moment zero images.
Extended Data Table 4 Gaussian fits to ALMA continuum images*
Extended Data Table 5 Derived physical properties

PowerPoint slides

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Capak, P., Carilli, C., Jones, G. et al. Galaxies at redshifts 5 to 6 with systematically low dust content and high [C ii] emission. Nature 522, 455–458 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature14500

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing