Hidden in Plain Sight: A Massive, Dusty Starburst in a Galaxy Protocluster at z = 5.7 in the COSMOS Field

July 2018 • 2018ApJ...861...43P

Authors • Pavesi, Riccardo • Riechers, Dominik A. • Sharon, Chelsea E. • Smolčić, Vernesa • Faisst, Andreas L. • Schinnerer, Eva • Carilli, Christopher L. • Capak, Peter L. • Scoville, Nick • Stacey, Gordon J.

Abstract • We report the serendipitous discovery of a dusty, starbursting galaxy at z = 5.667 (hereafter called CRLE) in close physical association with the “normal” main-sequence galaxy HZ10 at z = 5.654. CRLE was identified by detection of [C II], [N II], and CO(2-1) line emission, making it the highest-redshift, most luminous starburst in the COSMOS field. This massive, dusty galaxy appears to be forming stars at a rate of at least 1500 M yr-1 in a compact region only ∼3 kpc in diameter. The dynamical and dust emission properties of CRLE suggest an ongoing merger driving the starburst, which is in a potentially intermediate stage relative to other known dusty galaxies at the same epoch. The ratio of [C II] to [N II] may suggest that an important (∼15%) contribution to the [C II] emission comes from a diffuse ionized gas component, which could be more extended than the dense, starbursting gas. CRLE appears to be located in a significant galaxy overdensity at the same redshift, potentially associated with a large-scale cosmic structure recently identified in a Lyman α-emitter survey. This overdensity suggests that CRLE and HZ10 reside in a protocluster environment, offering the tantalizing opportunity to study the effect of a massive starburst on protocluster star formation. Our findings support the interpretation that a significant fraction of the earliest galaxy formation may occur from the inside out, within the central regions of the most massive halos, while rapidly evolving into the massive galaxy clusters observed in the local universe.


IPAC Authors


Andreas Faisst

Assistant Scientist