An ALMA survey of the SCUBA-2 Cosmology Legacy Survey UKIDSS/UDS field: Dust attenuation in high-redshift Lyman break Galaxies

M. P. Koprowski, K. E. K. Coppin, J. E. Geach, U. Dudzeviciute, Ian Smail, O. Almaini, Fangxia An, A. W. Blain, S. C. Chapman, Chian-Chou Chen, C. J. Conselice, J. S. Dunlop, D. Farrah, B. Gullberg, W. Hartley, R. J. Ivison, A. Karska, D. Maltby, M. J. Michałowski, A. PopeS. Salim, D. Scott, A. M. Swinbank, J. L. Wardlow, P. P. van der Werf, K. E. Whitaker

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We analyse 870um Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) dust continuum detections of 41 canonically-selected z~3 Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs), as well as 209 ALMA-undetected LBGs, in follow-up of SCUBA-2 mapping of the UKIDSS Ultra Deep Survey (UDS) field. We find that our ALMA-bright LBGs lie significantly off the locally calibrated IRX-beta relation and tend to have relatively bluer rest-frame UV slopes (as parametrised by beta), given their high values of the 'infrared excess' (IRX=L_IR/L_UV), relative to the average 'local' IRX-beta relation. We attribute this finding in part to the young ages of the underlying stellar populations but we find that the main reason behind the unusually blue UV slopes are the relatively shallow slopes of the corresponding dust attenuation curves. We show that, when stellar masses are being established via SED fitting, it is absolutely crucial to allow the attenuation curves to vary (rather than fixing it on Calzetti-like law), where we find that the inappropriate curves may underestimate the resulting stellar masses by a factor of ~2-3x on average. In addition, we find these LBGs to have relatively high specific star-formation rates (sSFRs), dominated by the dust component, as quantified via the fraction of obscured star formation ( f_obs = SFR_IR/SFR_(UV+IR)). We conclude that the ALMA-bright LBGs are, by selection, massive galaxies undergoing a burst of a star formation (large sSFRs, driven, for example, by secular or merger processes), with a likely geometrical disconnection of the dust and stars, responsible for producing shallow dust attenuation curves.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberstaa160
Pages (from-to)4927–4944
Number of pages18
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date20 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


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