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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Studying dusty star-forming galaxies with Herschel-SPIRE Asboth, Viktoria


Observations suggest that almost half of the total light emitted by stars in the Universe is absorbed by dust, and the emission is re-radiated at far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths. Dusty star-forming galaxies play a significant role in the stellar mass build-up at high redshift, but their contribution to the cosmic star formation rate density at z > 4 is still unknown, due to the currently limited availability of statistically significant high-redshift dusty galaxy samples. In this thesis we analyze data from two large area surveys, the HerMES Large Mode Survey (HeLMS) and the Herschel Stripe 82 Survey (HerS), observed with the Herschel-SPIRE instrument at far-infrared wavelengths of 250, 350 and 500 μm. We describe the process of constructing maps from detector data that provide an unbiased estimate of the sky signal, then we use a map-based detection method to assemble a large catalog of candidate z > 4 dusty star-forming galaxies detected in HeLMS. The large area of the survey allows us to detect a significant number of sources and we are able to determine the differential number counts of these galaxies at 500 μm. We find an excess of such high-redshift galaxies compared to model predictions, and our counts suggest strong evolution in their properties. We examine the properties of our sources at different wavelengths. Follow-up observations with ALMA, SCUBA-2 and ACT strengthen our initial assumption that the detected population consists of high-z dusty galaxies with their spectrum dominated by thermal dust emission, best fitted with an optically thick modified blackbody. These follow-up observations also allow us to examine the biasing effects in our number counts due to blending of nearby sources. We also investigate the mean dusty star formation activity in moderate redshift massive galaxy clusters detected by the Atacama Cosmology Telescope. We find that, on average, there is an excess of far-infrared emission in the line of sight of these clusters. Finding dusty star-forming galaxies in massive clusters implies that the environment can affect the star formation activity in galaxies.

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