A dusty star-forming galaxy at z = 6 revealed by strong gravitational lensing

Jorge A. Zavala, Alfredo Montaña, David H. Hughes, Min S. Yun, R. J. Ivison, Elisabetta Valiante, David Wilner, Justin Spilker, Itziar Aretxaga, Stephen Eales, Vladimir Avila-Reese, Miguel Chávez, Asantha Cooray, Helmut Dannerbauer, James S. Dunlop, Loretta Dunne, Arturo I. Gómez-Ruiz, Michał J. Michałowski, Gopal Narayanan, Hooshang NayyeriIvan Oteo, Daniel Rosa González, David Sánchez-Argüelles, F. Peter Schloerb, Stephen Serjeant, Matthew W.L. Smith, Elena Terlevich, Olga Vega, Alan Villalba, Paul Van Der Werf, Grant W. Wilson, Milagros Zeballos

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review


Since their discovery, submillimetre-selected galaxies 1,2 have revolutionized the field of galaxy formation and evolution. From the hundreds of square degrees mapped at submillimetre wavelengths 3-5, only a handful of sources have been confirmed to lie at z > 5 (refs 6-10 ) and only two at z ≥ 6 (refs 11,12 ). All of these submillimetre galaxies are rare examples of extreme starburst galaxies with star formation rates of ≳1,000 Myr-1 and therefore are not representative of the general population of dusty star-forming galaxies. Consequently, our understanding of the nature of these sources, at the earliest epochs, is still incomplete. Here, we report the spectroscopic identification of a gravitationally amplified (μ = 9.3 ± 1.0) dusty star-forming galaxy at z = 6.027. After correcting for gravitational lensing, we derive an intrinsic less-extreme star formation rate of 380 ± 50 M yr-1 for this source and find that its gas and dust properties are similar to those measured for local ultra luminous infrared galaxies, extending the local trends to a poorly explored territory in the early Universe. The star-formation efficiency of this galaxy is similar to those measured in its local analogues 13, despite a ∼12 Gyr difference in cosmic time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-62
Number of pages7
JournalNature Astronomy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2017


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