A link to the past: Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo fitting to constrain fundamental parameters of high-redshift galaxies

N. Pirzkal, B. Rothberg, Kim K. Nilsson, S. Finkelstein, Anton Koekemoer, Sangeeta Malhotra, James Rhoads

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

We have developed a new method for fitting spectral energy distributions (SEDs) to identify and constrain the physical properties of high-redshift (4 < z < 8) galaxies. Our approach uses an implementation of Bayesian based Markov Chain Monte Carlo that we have dubbed "πMC2." It allows us to compare observations to arbitrarily complex models and to compute 95% credible intervals that provide robust constraints for the model parameters. The work is presented in two sections. In the first, we test πMC2 using simulated SEDs to not only confirm the recovery of the known inputs but to assess the limitations of the method and identify potential hazards of SED fitting when applied specifically to high-redshift (z> 4) galaxies. In the second part of the paper we apply πMC2 to thirty-three 4 < z < 8 objects, including the spectroscopically confirmed Grism ACS Program for Extragalactic Science Lyα sample (4 < z < 6), supplemented by newly obtained Hubble Space Telescope/WFC3 near-IR observations, and several recently reported broadband selected z > 6 galaxies. Using πMC2, we are able to constrain the stellar mass of these objects and in some cases their stellar age and find no evidence that any of these sources formed at a redshift larger than z = 8, a time when the universe was 0.6 Gyr old.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number122
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume748
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2012

Keywords

  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • methods: statistical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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    Pirzkal, N., Rothberg, B., Nilsson, K. K., Finkelstein, S., Koekemoer, A., Malhotra, S., & Rhoads, J. (2012). A link to the past: Using Markov Chain Monte Carlo fitting to constrain fundamental parameters of high-redshift galaxies. Astrophysical Journal, 748(2), [122]. https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/748/2/122