The MOSFIRE Deep Evolution Field Survey: Implications of the Lack of Evolution in the Dust Attenuation-Mass Relation to z ∼2

Alice E. Shapley, Ryan L. Sanders, Samir Salim, Naveen A. Reddy, Mariska Kriek, Bahram Mobasher, Alison L. Coil, Brian Siana, Sedona H. Price, Irene Shivaei, James S. Dunlop, Ross J. McLure, Fergus Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We investigate the relationship between dust attenuation and stellar mass (M ∗) in star-forming galaxies over cosmic time. For this analysis, we compare measurements from the MOSFIRE Deep Evolution Field survey at z ∼2.3 and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) at z ∼0, augmenting the latter optical data set with both UV Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) and mid-infrared Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) photometry from the GALEX-SDSS-WISE Catalog. We quantify dust attenuation using both spectroscopic measurements of Hα and Hβ emission lines, and photometric measurements of the rest-UV stellar continuum. The Hα/Hβ ratio is used to determine the magnitude of attenuation at the wavelength of Hα, A Hα . Rest-UV colors and spectral energy distribution fitting are used to estimate A 1600, the magnitude of attenuation at a rest wavelength of 1600 Å. As in previous work, we find a lack of significant evolution in the relation between dust attenuation and M ∗ over the redshift range z ∼0 to z ∼2.3. Folding in the latest estimates of the evolution of M dust, (M dust/M gas), and gas surface density at fixed M ∗, we find that the expected M dust and dust mass surface density are both significantly higher at z ∼2.3 than at z ∼0. These differences appear at odds with the lack of evolution in dust attenuation. To explain the striking constancy in attenuation versus M ∗, it is essential to determine the relationship between metallicity and (M dust/M gas), the dust mass absorption coefficient and dust geometry, and the evolution of these relations and quantities from z ∼0 to z ∼2.3.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Based on data obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and was made possible by the generous financial support of the W.M. Keck Foundation.

Funding Information:
We acknowledge support from NSF AAG grant Nos. AST-1312780, 1312547, 1312764, 1313171, 2009313, and 2009085, grant No. AR-13907 from the Space Telescope Science Institute, grant No. NNX16AF54G from the NASA ADAP program, and the support of the UK Science and Technologies Facilities Council. Support for this work was also provided through the NASA Hubble Fellowship grant No. #HST-HF2-51469.001-A awarded by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Incorporated, under NASA contract NAS5-26555. We acknowledge helpful conversations with Ian Smail, Natascha Förster Schreiber, Tim Heckman, and John Peacock. We finally wish to extend special thanks to those of Hawaiian ancestry on whose sacred mountain we are privileged to be guests. Without their generous hospitality, the work presented herein would not have been possible.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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