Dust absorption and the ultraviolet luminosity density at z~3 as calibrated by local starburst galaxies.
MEURER G.R., HECKMAN T.M. and CALZETTI D.
Abstract (from CDS):
We refine a technique to measure the absorption-corrected ultraviolet (UV) luminosity of starburst galaxies using rest-frame UV quantities alone and apply it to Lyman-limit U dropouts at z~3 found in the Hubble Deep Field (HDF). The method is based on an observed correlation between the ratio of far-infrared (FIR) to UV fluxes with spectral slope β (a UV color). A simple fit to this relation allows the UV flux absorbed by dust and reprocessed to the FIR to be calculated, and hence the dust-free UV luminosity to be determined. International Ultraviolet Explorer spectra and Infrared Astronomical Satellite fluxes of local starbursts are used to calibrate the FFIR/F1600 versus β relation in terms of A1600 (the dust absorption at 1600 Å) and the transformation from broadband photometric color to β. Both calibrations are almost completely independent of theoretical stellar-population models. We show that the recent marginal and nondetections of HDF U dropouts at radio and submillimeter wavelengths are consistent with their assumed starburst nature and our calculated A1600. This is also true of recent observations of the ratio of optical emission-line flux to UV flux density in the brightest U dropouts. This latter ratio turns out not to be a good indicator of dust extinction. In U dropouts, absolute magnitude M1600,0 correlates with β: brighter galaxies are redder, as is observed to be the case for local starburst galaxies. This suggests that a mass-metallicity relationship is already in place at z~3. The absorption-corrected UV luminosity function of U dropouts extends up to M1600,0~-24 AB mag, corresponding to a star formation rate ∼200 M☉.yr–1 (H0=50 km.s–1 Mpc–3 and q0=0.5 are assumed throughout). The absorption-corrected UV luminosity density at z~3 is ρ1600,0≥1.4x1027 ergs–1.Hz–1.Mpc–1. It is still a lower limit since completeness corrections have not been done and because only galaxies with A1600≲3.6 mag are blue enough in the UV to be selected as U dropouts. The luminosity-weighted mean dust-absorption factor of our sample is 5.4±0.9 at 1600 Å.