The high-redshift Universe with Spitzer

Abstract

When did galaxies start forming stars? What is the role of distant galaxies in galaxy formation models and the epoch of reionization? What are the conditions in typical star-forming galaxies at redshifts 4? Why is galaxy evolution dependent on environment? The Spitzer Space Telescope has been a crucial tool for addressing these questions. Accurate knowledge of stellar masses, ages and star formation rates requires measuring rest-frame optical (and ultraviolet) light, which only Spitzer can probe at high redshifts for a sufficiently large sample of typical galaxies. Many of these science goals are the main science drivers for the James Webb Space Telescope, and Spitzer afforded us their first exploration.

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Fig. 1: Sensitivities and area of Spitzer surveys.
Fig. 2: Spitzer data are crucial for determining stellar ages.
Fig. 3: High-redshift galaxies detected in Spitzer images.
Fig. 4: Spitzer data can be used to measure (combined) strengths of several prominent optical lines.
Fig. 5: MACS1149-JD is the best example with evidence of an old stellar population at z ≈ 9.
Fig. 6: Spitzer data have been very effective in searching for and characterizing z > 1 galaxy clusters and protoclusters.

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Acknowledgements

This Review is based on observations made with the Spitzer Space Telescope, which is operated by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology under a contract with NASA. Support for this work was provided by NASA through ADAP grant 80NSSC18K0945, NSF grant AST 1815458 and through an award issued by JPL/Caltech. I thank B. Lemaux and V. Strait for their help with the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Maruša Bradač.

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Bradač, M. The high-redshift Universe with Spitzer. Nat Astron 4, 478–485 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-020-1104-5

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