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First light and reionisation epoch simulations (FLARES) – VI. The colour evolution of galaxies z = 5–15

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posted on 2023-06-10, 06:51 authored by Stephen WilkinsStephen Wilkins, Aswin P Vijayan, Christopher C Lovell, William RoperWilliam Roper, Dimitrios Irodotou, Joseph Caruana, Louise Teng-Yu Cheh SeeyaveLouise Teng-Yu Cheh Seeyave, Jussi KuusistoJussi Kuusisto, Peter ThomasPeter Thomas
With its exquisite sensitivity, wavelength coverage, and spatial and spectral resolution, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) is poised to revolutionize our view of the distant, high-redshift (z > 5) Universe. While Webb's spectroscopic observations will be transformative for the field, photometric observations play a key role in identifying distant objects and providing more comprehensive samples than accessible to spectroscopy alone. In addition to identifying objects, photometric observations can also be used to infer physical properties and thus be used to constrain galaxy formation models. However, inferred physical properties from broad-band photometric observations, particularly in the absence of spectroscopic redshifts, often have large uncertainties. With the development of new tools for forward modelling simulations, it is now routinely possible to predict observational quantities, enabling a direct comparison with observations. With this in mind, in this work, we make predictions for the colour evolution of galaxies at z = 5-15 using the First Light And Reionisation Epoch Simulations (flares) cosmological hydrodynamical simulation suite. We predict a complex evolution with time, driven predominantly by strong nebular line emission passing through individual bands. These predictions are in good agreement with existing constraints from Hubble and Spitzer as well as some of the first results from Webb. We also contrast our predictions with other models in the literature: While the general trends are similar, we find key differences, particularly in the strength of features associated with strong nebular line emission. This suggests photometric observations alone should provide useful discriminating power between different models and physical states of galaxies.


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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society




Oxford University Press (OUP)





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