A new multifield determination of the galaxy luminosity function at z=7-9 incorporating the 2012 Hubble Ultra-Deep Field imaging

R. J. McLure*, J. S. Dunlop, R. A. A. Bowler, E. Curtis-Lake, M. Schenker, R. S. Ellis, B. E. Robertson, A. M. Koekemoer, A. B. Rogers, Y. Ono, M. Ouchi, S. Charlot, Vivienne Wild, D. P. Stark, S. R. Furlanetto, M. Cirasuolo, T. A. Targett

*Corresponding author for this work

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We present a new determination of the ultraviolet (UV) galaxy luminosity function (LF) at redshift z ≃ 7 and 8, and a first estimate at z ≃ 9. An accurate determination of the form and evolution of the galaxy LF during this era is of key importance for improving our knowledge of the earliest phases of galaxy evolution and the process of cosmic reionization. Our analysis exploits to the full the new, deepest Wide Field Camera 3/infrared imaging from our Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Ultra-Deep Field 2012 (UDF12) campaign, with dynamic range provided by including a new and consistent analysis of all appropriate, shallower/wider area HST survey data. Our new measurement of the evolving LF at z ≃ 7 to 8 is based on a final catalogue of ≃600 galaxies, and involves a step-wise maximum-likelihood determination based on the photometric redshift probability distribution for each object; this approach makes full use of the 11-band imaging now available in the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field (HUDF), including the new UDF12 F140W data, and the latest Spitzer IRAC imaging. The final result is a determination of the z ≃ 7 LF extending down to UV absolute magnitudes M1500 = -16.75 (AB mag) and the z ≃ 8 LF down to M1500 = -17.00. Fitting a Schechter function, we find M1500* = -19.90-0.28+0.23, log φ* = -2.96-0.23+0.18 and a faint-end slope α = -1.90-0.15+0.14 at z ≃ 7, and M1500* = -20.12-0.48+0.37, log φ* = -3.35-0.47+0.28 and α = - at z ≃ 8. These results strengthen previous suggestions that the evolution at z > 7 appears more akin to 'density evolution' than the apparent 'luminosity evolution' seen at z ≃ 5 - 7. We also provide the first meaningful information on the LF at z ≃ 9, explore alternative extrapolations to higher redshifts, and consider the implications for the early evolution of UV luminosity density. Finally, we provide catalogues (including derived zphot, M1500 and photometry) for the most robust z ∼ 6.5-11.9 galaxies used in this analysis. We briefly discuss our results in the context of earlier work and the results derived from an independent analysis of the UDF12 data based on colour-colour selection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2696-2716
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date10 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2013


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Star-forming galaxies
  • Similar-to 8
  • Extragalactic legacy survey
  • High-redshift galaxies
  • Lyman-break galaxies
  • WFC3/IR observations
  • Stellar populations
  • Alpha emission
  • Bright-end
  • Spectroscopic confirmation


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