Luminous compact blue galaxies up to z ∼ 1 in the Hubble Space Telescope ultra deep field. I. Small galaxies or blue centers of massive disks?

K. G. Noeske, D. C. Koo, A. C. Phillips, C. N.A. Willmer, J. Melbourne, A. Gil De Paz, P. Papaderos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


We analyze 26 luminous compact blue galaxies (LCBGs) in the Hubble Space Telescope ACS Ultra Deep Field (UDF) at z ∼ 0.2-1.3, to determine whether these truly are small galaxies or, rather, bright central starbursts within existing or forming large disk galaxies. Surface brightness profiles from UDF images reach fainter than rest-frame 26.5 B mag arcsec-2 even for compact objects at z ∼ 1. Most LCBGs show a smaller, brighter component that is likely star-forming, and an extended, roughly exponential component with colors suggesting stellar ages from ≳ 100 Myr to a few gigayears. Scale lengths of the extended components are mostly ≲2 kpc, more than 1.5-2 times smaller than those of nearby large disk galaxies like the Milky Way. Larger, very low surface brightness disks can be excluded down to faint rest-frame surface brightnesses (≳26 B mag arcsec-2). However, one or two of the LCBGs are large, disklike galaxies that meet LCBG selection criteria because of a bright central nucleus, possibly a forming bulge. These results indicate that ≳90% of high-z LCBGs are small galaxies that will evolve into small disk galaxies, or low-mass spheroidal or irregular galaxies in the local universe, assuming passive evolution and no significant disk growth. The data do not reveal signs of disk formation around small, H II galaxy-like LCBGs, nor do they suggest a simple inside-out growth scenario for larger LCBGs with a disklike morphology. Irregular blue emission in distant LCBGs is relatively extended, suggesting that nebular emission lines from star-forming regions sample a major fraction of an LCBG's velocity field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L143-L146
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: compact
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxies: starburst
  • Galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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