Optical-faint, Far-infrared-bright Herschel Sources in the CANDELS Fields: Ultra-luminous Infrared Galaxies at z > 1 and the Effect of Source Blending

Haojing Yan, Mauro Stefanon, Zhiyuan Ma, S. P. Willner, Rachel Somerville, Matthew L. N. Ashby, Romeel Davé, Pablo G. Pérez-González, Antonio Cava, Tommy Wiklind, Dale Kocevski, Marc Rafelski, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, Asantha Cooray, Anton M. Koekemoer, Norman A. Grogin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The Herschel very wide field surveys have charted hundreds of square degrees in multiple far-IR (FIR) bands. While the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is currently the best resource for optical counterpart identifications over such wide areas, it does not detect a large number of Herschel FIR sources and leaves their nature undetermined. As a test case, we studied seven "SDSS-invisible," very bright 250 μm sources (S 250 > 55 mJy) in the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey fields where we have a rich multi-wavelength data set. We took a new approach to decompose the FIR sources, using the near-IR or the optical images directly for position priors. This is an improvement over the previous decomposition efforts where the priors are from mid-IR data that still suffer from the problem of source blending. We found that in most cases the single Herschel sources are made of multiple components that are not necessarily at the same redshifts. Our decomposition succeeded in identifying and extracting their major contributors. We show that these are all ultra-luminous infrared galaxies at z ~ 1-2 whose high L IR is mainly due to dust-obscured star formation. Most of them would not be selected as submillimeter galaxies. They all have complicated morphologies indicative of mergers or violent instability, and their stellar populations are heterogeneous in terms of stellar masses, ages, and formation histories. Their current ultra-luminous infrared galaxy phases are of various degrees of importance in their stellar mass assembly. Our practice provides a promising starting point for developing an automatic routine to reliably study bright Herschel sources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2
JournalAstrophysical Journal Supplement
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2014

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • galaxies: starburst
  • infrared: galaxies
  • methods: data analysis
  • submillimeter: galaxies


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