Spectrophotometric Redshifts for z ∼ 1 Galaxies and Predictions for Number Densities with WFIRST and Euclid

Bhavin A. Joshi, Seth Cohen, Rogier A. Windhorst, Rolf Jansen, Norbert Pirzkal, Nimish P. Hathi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


We investigate the accuracy of 4000 Å/Balmer-break based redshifts by combining Hubble Space Telescope (HST) grism data with photometry. The grism spectra are from the Probing Evolution And Reionization Spectroscopically survey with HST using the G800L grism on the Advanced Camera for Surveys. The photometric data come from a compilation by the 3D-HST collaboration of imaging from multiple surveys (notably, the Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Survey (CANDELS) and 3D-HST). We show evidence that spectrophotometric redshifts (SPZs) typically improve the accuracy of photometric redshifts by ∼17%-60%. Our SPZ method is a template-fitting-based routine that accounts for correlated data between neighboring points within grism spectra via the covariance matrix formalism and also accounts for galaxy morphology along the dispersion direction. We show that the robustness of the SPZ is directly related to the fidelity of the D4000 measurement. We also estimate the accuracy of continuum-based redshifts, i.e., for galaxies that do not contain strong emission lines, based on the grism data alone (σΔz NMAD(1+z) ≲ 0.06). Given that future space-based observatories like Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope and Euclid will spend a significant fraction of time on slitless spectroscopic observations, we estimate number densities for objects with |Δz/(1 + zs)≤ 0.02. We predict ∼700-4400 galaxies degree-2 for galaxies with D4000 > 1.1 and to a limiting depth of i AB = 24 mag. This is especially important in the absence of an accompanying rich photometric data set like the existing one for the CANDELS fields, where redshift accuracy from future surveys will rely only on the presence of a feature like the 4000 Å/Balmer breaks or the presence of emission lines within the grism spectra.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number157
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • galaxies: Distances and redshifts
  • galaxies: Evolution
  • galaxies: High-redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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