Context. The physical processes driving the evolution of star formation (SF) in galaxies over cosmic time still present many open questions. Recent galaxy surveys allow now to study these processes in great detail at intermediate redshift (0 ≤ z ≤ 0.5).
Aims: We build a complete sample of star-forming galaxies and analyze their properties, reaching systems with low stellar masses and low star formation rates (SFRs) at intermediate-to-low redshift.
Methods: We use data from the SHARDS multiband survey in the GOODS-North field. Its depth (up to magnitude ⟨m3σ⟩ 26.5) and its spectro-photometric resolution (R 50) provides us with an ideal dataset to search for emission line galaxies (ELGs). We develop a new algorithm to identify low-redshift (z < 0.36) ELGs by detecting the [OIII]5007 and Hα emission lines simultaneously. We fit the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the selected sample, using a model with two single stellar populations.
Results: We find 160 star-forming galaxies for which we derive equivalent widths (EWs) and absolute fluxes of both emission lines. We detect EWs as low as 12 Å, with median values for the sample of 35 Å in [OIII]5007 and 56 Å in Hα, respectively. Results from the SED fitting show a young stellar population with low median metallicity (36% of the solar value) and extinction (AV 0.37), with median galaxy stellar mass 108.5 M⊙. Gas-phase metallicities measured from available spectra are also low. ELGs in our sample present bluer colours in the UVJ plane than the median colour-selected star-forming galaxy in SHARDS. We suggest a new V-J colour criterion to separate ELGs from non-ELGs in blue galaxy samples. In addition, several galaxies present high densities of O-type stars, possibly producing galactic superwinds, which makes them interesting targets for follow-up spectroscopy.
Conclusions: We have demonstrated the efficiency of SHARDS in detecting low-mass ELGs ( 2 magnitudes deeper than previous spectroscopic surveys in the same field). The selected sample accounts for 20% of the global galaxy population at this redshift and luminosity, and is characterized by young SF bursts with sub-solar metallicities and low extinction. However, robust fits to the full SEDs can only be obtained including an old stellar population, suggesting the young component is built up by a recent burst of SF in an otherwise old galaxy.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- January 2019
- galaxies: star formation;
- galaxies: photometry;
- galaxies: fundamental parameters;
- galaxies: stellar content;
- galaxies: starburst;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Accepted for publication in Astronomy &