Spectroscopic confirmation of four metal-poor galaxies at z=10.3-13.2

Emma Curtis-Lake, Stefano Carniani, Alex Cameron, Stephane Charlot, Peter Jakobsen, Roberto Maiolino, Andrew Bunker, Joris Witstok, Renske Smit, Jacopo Chevallard, Chris Willott, Pierre Ferruit, Santiago Arribas, Nina Bonaventura, Mirko Curti, Francesco D'Eugenio, Marijn Franx, Giovanna Giardino, Tobias J. Looser, Nora LützgendorfMichael V. Maseda, Tim Rawle, Hans-Walter Rix, Bruno Rodriguez del Pino, Hannah Übler, Marko Sirianni, Alan Dressler, Eiichi Egami, Daniel J. Eisenstein, Ryan Endsley, Kevin Hainline, Ryan Hausen, Benjamin D. Johnson, Marcia Rieke, Brant Robertson, Irene Shivaei, Daniel P. Stark, Sandro Tacchella, Christina C. Williams, Christopher N. A. Willmer, Rachana Bhatawdekar, Rebecca Bowler, Kristan Boyett, Zuyi Chen, Anna de Graaff, Jakob M. Helton, Raphael E. Hviding, Gareth C. Jones, Nimisha Kumari, Jianwei Lyu, Erica Nelson, Michele Perna, Lester Sandles, Aayush Saxena, Katherine A. Suess, Fengwu Sun, Michael W. Topping, Imaan E. B. Wallace, Lily Whitler

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Abstract

Finding and characterizing the first galaxies that illuminated the early universe at cosmic dawn is pivotal to understand the physical conditions and the processes that led to the formation of the first stars. In the first few months of operations, imaging from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been used to identify tens of candidates of galaxies at redshift (z) greater than 10, less than 450 million years after the Big Bang. However, none of such candidates has yet been confirmed spectroscopically, leaving open the possibility that they are actually low-redshift interlopers. Here we present spectroscopic confirmation and analysis of four galaxies unambiguously detected at redshift 10.3 ≤ z ≤ 13.2, previously selected from JWST Near Infrared Camera imaging. The spectra reveal that these primeval galaxies are metal poor, have masses on the order of about 10 7–10 8 solar masses and young ages. The damping wings that shape the continuum close to the Lyman edge provide constraints on the neutral hydrogen fraction of the intergalactic medium from normal star-forming galaxies. These findings demonstrate the rapid emergence of the first generations of galaxies at cosmic dawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)622–632
Number of pages11
JournalNature Astronomy
Volume7
Issue number5
Early online date4 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Keywords

  • astro-ph.GA

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