The star formation history of galaxies measured from individual pixels. I. The hubble deep field north

Alberto Conti*, Andrew J. Connolly, Andrew M. Hopkins, Tamas Budavári, Alex S. Szalay, István Csabai, Samuel J. Schmidt, Carla Adams, Nada Petrovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze the photometric information contained in individual pixels of galaxies in the Rubble Deep Field North (HDF-N) using a new technique, pixel-z, that combines predictions of evolutionary synthesis models with photometric redshift template fitting. Each spectral energy distribution template is a result of modeling of the detailed physical processes affecting gas properties and star formation efficiency. The criteria chosen to generate the spectral energy distribution templates is that of sampling a wide range of physical characteristics such as age, star formation rate, obscuration, and metallicity. A key feature of our method is the sophisticated use of error analysis to generate error maps that define the reliability of the template fitting on pixel scales and allow for the separation of the interplay among dust, metallicity, and star formation histories. This technique offers a number of advantages over traditional integrated color studies. As a first application, we derive the star formation and metallicity histories of galaxies in the HDF-N. Our results show that the comoving density of star formation rate, determined from the UV luminosity density of sources in the HDF-N, increases monotonically with redshift out to at least redshift of 5. This behavior can plausibly be explained by a smooth increase of the UV luminosity density with redshift coupled with an increase in the number of star-forming regions as a function of redshift. We also find that the information contained in individual pixels in a galaxy can be linked to its morphological history. Finally, we derive the metal enrichment rate history of the universe and find it in good agreement with predictions based on the evolving H I content of Lyα QSO absorption-line systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2330-2345
Number of pages16
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5 1775
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: distances and redshiftsGalaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: luminosity function, mass function


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