A deeper look at the dust attenuation law of star-forming galaxies at high redshift

Tress, M.; Ferreras, I.; Pérez-González, P. G.; Bressan, A.; Barro, G.; Domínguez-Sánchez, H.; Eliche-Moral, C.
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 488, Issue 2, p.2301-2311

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A diverse range of dust attenuation laws is found in star-forming galaxies. In particular, Tress et al. (2018) studied the SHARDS survey to constrain the NUV bump strength (B) and the total-to-selective ratio (RV) of 1753 star-forming galaxies in the GOODS-N field at 1.5 < z < 3. We revisit here this sample to assess the implications and possible causes of the correlation found between RV and B. The UVJ bicolour plot and main sequence of star formation are scrutinized to look for clues into the observed trend. The standard boundary between quiescent and star-forming galaxies is preserved when taking into account the wide range of attenuation parameters. However, an additional degeneracy - regarding the effective attenuation law - is added to the standard loci of star-forming galaxies in the UVJ diagram. A simple phenomenological model with an age-dependent extinction (at fixed dust composition) is compatible with the observed trend between RV and B, whereby the opacity decreases with the age of the populations, resulting in a weaker NUV bump when the overall attenuation is shallower (greyer). In addition, we compare the constraints obtained by the SHARDS sample with dust models from the literature, supporting a scenario where geometry could potentially drive the correlation between RV and B.
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