Calibrating the star formation rate at z ∼ 1 from optical data

Nick Mostek, Alison L. Coil, John Moustakas, Samir Salim, Benjamin J. Weiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We present a star formation rate (SFR) calibration based on optical data that is consistent with average observed rates in both the red and blue galaxy populations at z ∼ 1. The motivation for this study is to calculate SFRs for DEEP2 Redshift Survey galaxies in the 0.7 < z < 1.4 redshift range, but our results are generally applicable to similar optically selected galaxy samples without requiring UV or IR data. Using SFR fits from UV/optical spectral energy distributions (SEDs) in the All-Wavelength Extended Groth Strip International Survey, we explore the behavior of rest-frame B-band magnitude, observed [O II] luminosity, and rest-frame color with SED-fit SFR for both red sequence and blue cloud galaxies. The resulting SFR calibration is based on three optical-band observables: MB , (U - B), and (B - V). The best-fit linear relation produces residual errors of 0.3dexrms scatter for the full color-independent sample with minimal correlated residual error in L[O II] or stellar mass. We then compare the calibrated z ∼ 1 SFRs to two diagnostics that use L[O II] as a tracer in local galaxies and correct for dust extinction at intermediate redshifts through either galaxy B-band luminosity or stellar mass. We find that an L[O II]-MB SFR calibration commonly used in the literature agrees well with our calculated SFRs after correcting for the average B-band luminosity evolution in L * galaxies. However, we find better agreement with a local L[O II]-based SFR calibration that includes stellar mass to correct for reddening effects, indicating that stellar mass is a better tracer of dust extinction for all galaxy types and less affected by systematic evolution than galaxy luminosity from z = 1 to the current epoch.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number124
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 20 2012


  • galaxies: active
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: high-redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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