Panic! at the Disks: First Rest-frame Optical Observations of Galaxy Structure at z > 3 with JWST in the SMACS 0723 Field

Leonardo Ferreira, Nathan Adams, Christopher J. Conselice, Elizaveta Sazonova, Duncan Austin, Joseph Caruana, Fabricio Ferrari, Aprajita Verma, James Trussler, Tom Broadhurst, Jose Diego, Brenda L. Frye, Massimo Pascale, Stephen M. Wilkins, Rogier A. Windhorst, Adi Zitrin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present early results regarding the morphological and structural properties of galaxies seen with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) at z > 3 in the Early Release Observations toward the SMACS 0723 cluster field. Using JWST we investigate, for the first time, the optical morphologies of a significant number of z > 3 galaxies with accurate photometric redshifts in this field to determine the form of galaxy structure in the relatively early universe. We use visual morphologies and Morfometryka measures to perform quantitative morphology measurements, both parametric with light profile fitting (Sérsic indices) and nonparametric (concentration, asymmetry, and smoothness (CAS) values). Using these, we measure the relative fraction of disk, spheroidal, and peculiar galaxies at 3 < z < 8. We discover the surprising result that at z > 1.5 disk galaxies dominate the overall fraction of morphologies, with a factor of ∼10 relative higher number of disk galaxies than seen by the Hubble Space Telescope at these redshifts. Our visual morphological estimates of galaxies align closely with their locations in CAS parameter space and their Sérsic indices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL2
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume938
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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