A Census of the Bright z = 8.5-11 Universe with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes in the CANDELS Fields

Steven L. Finkelstein, Micaela Bagley, Mimi Song, Rebecca Larson, Casey Papovich, Mark Dickinson, Keely D. Finkelstein, Anton M. Koekemoer, Norbert Pirzkal, Rachel S. Somerville, L. Y.Aaron Yung, Peter Behroozi, Harry Ferguson, Mauro Giavalisco, Norman Grogin, Nimish Hathi, Taylor A. Hutchison, Intae Jung, Dale Kocevski, Lalitwadee KawinwanichakijSofía Rojas-Ruiz, Russell Ryan, Gregory F. Snyder, Sandro Tacchella

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


We present the results from a new search for candidate galaxies at z ≈ 8.5-11 discovered over the 850 arcmin2 area probed by the Cosmic Assembly Near-Infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS). We use a photometric-redshift selection including both Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescope photometry to robustly identify galaxies in this epoch at H 160 < 26.6. We use a detailed vetting procedure, including screening against persistence and stellar contamination, and the inclusion of ground-based imaging and follow-up Hubble Space Telescope imaging to build a robust sample of 11 candidate galaxies, three presented here for the first time. The inclusion of Spitzer/IRAC photometry in the selection process reduces contamination, and yields more robust redshift estimates than Hubble alone. We constrain the evolution of the rest-frame ultraviolet luminosity function via a new method of calculating the observed number densities without choosing a prior magnitude bin size. We find that the abundance at our brightest probed luminosities (M UV = - 22.3) is consistent with predictions from simulations that assume that galaxies in this epoch have gas depletion times at least as short as those in nearby starburst galaxies. Due to large Poisson and cosmic variance uncertainties, we cannot conclusively rule out either a smooth evolution of the luminosity function continued from z = 4-8, or an accelerated decline at z > 8. We calculate that the presence of seven galaxies in a single field Extended Groth Strip is an outlier at the 2σ significance level, implying the discovery of a significant over-density. These scenarios will be imminently testable to high confidence within the first year of observations of the James Webb Space Telescope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number52
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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