Luminous Lyα Emitters with Very Blue UV-continuum Slopes at Redshift 5.7 ≤ z ≤ 6.6

Linhua Jiang, Seth H. Cohen, Rogier A. Windhorst, Eiichi Egami, Kristian Finlator, Daniel Schaerer, Fengwu Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


We study six luminous Lyα emitters (LAEs) with very blue rest-frame UV continua at 5.7 ≤ z ≤ 6.6. These LAEs have previous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and Spitzer IRAC observations. Combining our newly acquired HST images, we find that their UV-continuum slopes β are in a range of-3.4 ≤ β ≤-2.6. Unlike previous, tentative detections of β ≃-3 in photometrically selected, low-luminosity galaxies, our LAEs are spectroscopically confirmed and luminous (M UV <-20 mag). We model their broadband spectral energy distributions (SEDs), and find that two β ≃-2.6 ± 0.2 galaxies can be well fitted with young and dust-free stellar populations. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to fit bluer galaxies. We explore further interpretations by including the non-zero LyC escape fraction f esc, very low metallicities, and/or active galactic nucleus contributions. Assuming f esc ≃ 0.2, we achieve the bluest slopes β ≃-2.7 when nebular emission is considered. This can nearly explain the SEDs of two galaxies with β ≃-2.8 and-2.9 (σ β = 0.15). Larger f esc values and very low metallicities are not favored by the strong nebular line emission (evidenced by the IRAC flux) or the observed (IRAC 1-IRAC 2) color. Finally, we find that the β ≃-2.9 galaxy can potentially be well explained by the combination of a very young population with a high f esc (≥0.5) and an old, dusty population. We are not able to produce two β ≃-3.4 ± 0.4 galaxies. Future deep spectroscopic observations are needed to fully understand these galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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