Hubble Space Telescope WFC3 Early Release Science: Emission-line galaxies from infrared grism observations

Amber N. Straughn, Harald Kuntschner, Martin Kümmel, Jeremy R. Walsh, Seth H. Cohen, Jonathan P. Gardner, Rogier A. Windhorst, Robert W. O'Connell, Norbert Pirzkal, Gerhardt Meurer, Patrick J. McCarthy, Nimish P. Hathi, Sangeeta Malhotra, James Rhoads, Bruce Balick, Howard E. Bond, Daniela Calzetti, Michael J. Disney, Michael A. Dopita, Jay A. FrogelDonald N.B. Hall, Jon A. Holtzman, Randy A. Kimble, Max Mutchler, Francesco Paresce, Abhijit Saha, Joseph I. Silk, John T. Trauger, Alistair R. Walker, Bradley C. Whitmore, Erick T. Young, Chun Xu

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13 Scopus citations


We present grism spectra of emission-line galaxies (ELGs) from 0.6 to 1.6μm from the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) on the Hubble Space Telescope. These new infrared grism data augment previous optical Advanced Camera for Surveys G800L 0.6-0.95μm grism data in GOODS-South from the PEARS program, extending the wavelength coverage well past the G800L red cutoff. The Early Release Science (ERS) grism field was observed at a depth of two orbits per grism, yielding spectra of hundreds of faint objects, a subset of which is presented here. ELGs are studied via the Hα, [Oiii], and [O ii] emission lines detected in the redshift ranges 0.2 ≲ z ≲ 1.4, 1.2 ≲ z ≲ 2.2, and 2.0 ≲ z ≲ 3.3, respectively, in the G102 (0.8-1.1μm; R ≃ 210) and G141 (1.1-1.6μm; R ≃ 130) grisms. The higher spectral resolution afforded by the WFC3 grisms also reveals emission lines not detectable with the G800L grism (e.g., [S ii] and [S iii] lines). From these relatively shallow observations, line luminosities, star formation rates, and grism spectroscopic redshifts are determined for a total of 48 ELGs to mAB(F098M) ≃ 25 mag. Seventeen GOODS-South galaxies that previously only had photometric redshifts now have new grism-spectroscopic redshifts, in some cases with large corrections to the photometric redshifts (Δz ≃ 0.3-0.5). Additionally, one galaxy had no previously measured redshift but now has a secure grism-spectroscopic redshift, for a total of 18 new GOODS-South spectroscopic redshifts. The faintest source in our sample has a magnitude mAB(F098M)= 26.9 mag. The ERS grism data also reflect the expected trend of lower specific star formation rates for the highest mass galaxies in the sample as a function of redshift, consistent with downsizing and discovered previously from large surveys. These results demonstrate the remarkable efficiency and capability of the WFC3 NIR grisms for measuring galaxy properties to faint magnitudes and redshifts to z ≲ 2.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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