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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Professor Ian Smail

Smail, I., Ellis, R. S., Aragón-Salamanca, A., Soucail, G., Mellier, Y. & Giraud, E. (1993). The Nature of Star Formation in Lensed Galaxies at High Redshift. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 263(3): 628-640.

Author(s) from Durham


We present near-infrared photometry of all available gravitationally lensed ‘arcs’ with spectroscopic redshifts. By combining this photometry with optical data, we find that the bulk of the systems with z ~ 1 are intrinsically blue across the rest-frame spectral region 2000 Å to 1 μm. Using a combination of optical and optical-infrared colours, we demonstrate that these systems cannot be blue by virtue of a secondary burst of star formation superimposed on an evolved population, but we are unable to distinguish directly between major star formation events in a generic young galaxy and an extended era of constant star formation typical of late-type spirals. Using various arguments, we conclude that our arcs represent modest gravitational magnification of typical field galaxies. Consequently, if the star formation seen is representative of that in field galaxies at z ≥ 1, the absence of high-redshift galaxies in current deep spectroscopic surveys to bJ≃24bJ≃24 supports the hypothesis that the bulk of the star formation in normal galaxies occurred over an extended era up to the epoch corresponding to z ~ 1.