Early Results from GLASS-JWST. IV. Spatially Resolved Metallicity in a Low-mass z 3 Galaxy with NIRISS

October 2022 • 2022ApJ...938L..16W

Authors • Wang, Xin • Jones, Tucker • Vulcani, Benedetta • Treu, Tommaso • Morishita, Takahiro • Roberts-Borsani, Guido • Malkan, Matthew A. • Henry, Alaina • Brammer, Gabriel • Strait, Victoria • Bradač, Maruša • Boyett, Kristan • Calabrò, Antonello • Castellano, Marco • Fontana, Adriano • Glazebrook, Karl • Kelly, Patrick L. • Leethochawalit, Nicha • Marchesini, Danilo • Santini, P. • Trenti, M. • Yang, Lilan

Abstract • We report the first gas-phase metallicity map of a distant galaxy measured with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). We use the NIRISS slitless spectroscopy acquired by the GLASS Early Release Science program to spatially resolve the rest-frame optical nebular emission lines in a gravitationally lensed galaxy at z = 3.06 behind the A2744 galaxy cluster. This galaxy (dubbed GLASS-Zgrad1) has stellar mass ~108.6 M , instantaneous star formation rate ~8.6 M yr-1 (both corrected for lensing magnification), and global metallicity one-fourth solar. From its emission-line maps ([O III], Hβ, Hγ, [Ne III], and [O II]), we derive its spatial distribution of gas-phase metallicity using a well-established forward-modeling Bayesian inference method. The exquisite resolution and sensitivity of JWST/NIRISS, combined with lensing magnification, enable us to resolve this z ~ 3 dwarf galaxy in ≳50 resolution elements with sufficient signal, an analysis hitherto not possible. We find that the radial metallicity gradient of GLASS-Zgrad1 is strongly inverted (i.e., positive): ${\rm{\Delta }}\mathrm{log}({\rm{O}}/{\rm{H}})/{\rm{\Delta }}r$ = 0.165 ± 0.023 dex kpc-1. This measurement is robust at $\gtrsim 4-\,\sigma $ confidence level against known systematics. This positive gradient may be due to tidal torques induced by a massive nearby (~15 kpc projected) galaxy, which can cause inflows of metal-poor gas into the central regions of GLASS-Zgrad1. These first results showcase the power of JWST wide-field slitless spectroscopic modes to resolve the mass assembly and chemical enrichment of low-mass galaxies in and beyond the peak epoch of cosmic star formation (z ≳ 2). Reaching masses ≲ 109 M at these redshifts is especially valuable to constrain the effects of galactic feedback and environment and is possible only with JWST's new capabilities. *Based on observations acquired by the JWST under the ERS program ID 1324 (PI T. Treu).


IPAC Authors


Takahiro Morishita

Assistant Scientist