Early Results from GLASS-JWST. XVI. Discovering a Bluer z 4-7 Universe through UV Slopes

April 2023 • 2023ApJ...947L..26N

Authors • Nanayakkara, Themiya • Glazebrook, Karl • Jacobs, Colin • Bonchi, Andrea • Castellano, Marco • Fontana, Adriano • Mason, Charlotte • Merlin, Emiliano • Morishita, Takahiro • Paris, Diego • Trenti, Michele • Treu, Tommaso • Calabrò, Antonello • Boyett, Kristan • Bradac, Marusa • Leethochawalit, Nicha • Marchesini, Danilo • Santini, Paola • Strait, Victoria • Vanzella, Eros • Vulcani, Benedetta • Wang, Xin • Yang, Lilian

Abstract • We use the GLASS-JWST Early Release Science NIRCam parallel observations to provide a first view of the UV continuum properties of NIRCam/F444W selected galaxies at 4 < z < 7. By combining multiwavelength NIRCam observations, we constrain the UV continuum slope for a sample of 401 galaxies with stringent quality controls. We find that >99% of the galaxies are blue star-forming galaxies with very low levels of dust (Av β ~ 0.01 ± 0.33). We find no statistically significant correlation for UV slope with redshift or UV magnitude. However, we find that in general galaxies at higher redshifts and fainter UV magnitudes have steeper UV slopes. We find a statistically significant correlation for UV slope with stellar mass, with galaxies with higher stellar mass showing shallower UV slopes. Individual fits to some of our galaxies reach the bluest UV slopes of β ~ -3.1 allowed by stellar population models used in this analysis. Therefore, it is likely that stellar population models with a higher amount of Lyman continuum leakage, active galactic nucleus effects, and/or Population III contributions are required to accurately reproduce the rest-UV and optical properties of some of our bluest galaxies. This dust-free early view confirms that our current cosmological understanding of gradual mass + dust buildup of galaxies with cosmic time is largely accurate to describe the ~0.7-1.5 Gyr age window of the universe. The abundance of a large population of UV faint dust-poor systems may point to a dominance of low-mass galaxies at z > 6 playing a vital role in cosmic reionization.


IPAC Authors


Takahiro Morishita

Assistant Scientist