Obscured star formation in bright z ≃ 7 Lyman-break galaxies

R. A. A. Bowler, N. Bourne, J. S. Dunlop, R. J. McLure, D. J. McLeod

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We present Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array observations of the rest-frame far-infrared (FIR) dust continuum emission of six bright Lyman-break galaxies (LBGs) at z ≃ 7. One LBG is detected (5.2σ at peak emission), whilst the others remain individually undetected at the 3σ level. The average FIR luminosity of the sample is found to be L_FIR ˜eq 2 × 10^{11} L_{⊙}, corresponding to an obscured star formation rate (SFR) that is comparable to that inferred from the unobscured UV emission. In comparison to the infrared excess (IRX =L_FIR/L_UV)-β relation, our results are consistent with a Calzetti-like attenuation law (assuming a dust temperature of T = 40-50 K). We find a physical offset of 3 kpc between the dust continuum emission and the rest-frame UV light probed by Hubble Space Telescope imaging for galaxy ID65666 at z=7.17^{+0.09}_{-0.06}. The offset is suggestive of an inhomogeneous dust distribution, where 75 per cent of the total star formation activity (SFR ˜eq 70 M_{⊙}/yr) of the galaxy is completely obscured. Our results provide direct evidence that dust obscuration plays a key role in shaping the bright end of the observed rest-frame UV luminosity function at z ≃ 7, in agreement with cosmological galaxy formation simulations. The existence of a heavily obscured component of galaxy ID65666 indicates that dusty star-forming regions, or even entire galaxies, that are `UV dark' are significant even in the z ≃ 7 galaxy population.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1631-1644
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018


  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: high-redshift


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