X-ray properties of Lyman break galaxies in the Hubble Deep Field-North region

K. Nandra, R. F. Mushotzky, K. Arnaud, C. C. Steidel, K. L. Adelberger, J. P. Gardner, H. I. Teplitz, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


We describe the X-ray properties of a large sample of z ∼ 3 Lyman break galaxies (LBGs) in the region of the Hubble Deep Field-North, derived from the 1 Ms public Chandra observation. Of our sample of 148 LBGs, four are detected individually. This immediately gives a measure of the bright AGN fraction in these galaxies of ∼3%, which is in agreement with that derived from the UV spectra. The X-ray color of the detected sources indicates that they are probably moderately obscured. Stacking of the remainder shows a significant detection (6 σ) with an average luminosity of 3.4 × 1041 ergs s-1 per galaxy in the rest-frame 2-10 keV band. We have also studied a comparison sample of 95 z ∼ 1 "Balmer break" galaxies. Eight of these are detected directly, with at least two clear AGNs based on their high X-ray luminosity and very hard X-ray spectra. The remainder are of relatively low luminosity (<1042 ergs s -1), and the X-rays could arise from either AGNs or rapid star formation. The X-ray colors and evidence from other wave bands favor the latter interpretation. Excluding the clear AGNs, we deduce a mean X-ray luminosity of 6.6 × 1040 ergs s-1, a factor of ∼5 lower than the LBGs. The average ratio of the UV and X-ray luminosities of these star-forming galaxies LUV/LX, however, is approximately the same at z = 1 as it is at z = 3. This scaling implies that the X-ray emission follows the current star formation rate, as measured by the UV luminosity. We use our results to constrain the star formation rate at z ∼ 3 from an X-ray perspective. Assuming the locally established correlation between X-ray and far-IR luminosity, the average inferred star formation rate in each LBG is found to be approximately 60 M yr-1, in excellent agreement with the extinction-corrected UV estimates. This provides an external check on the UV estimates of the star formation rates and on the use of X-ray luminosities to infer these rates in rapidly star-forming galaxies at high redshift.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-639
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Sep 10 2002


  • Galaxies: active
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • X-rays: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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