Predicting the Redshift Hα Luminosity Function Using [OIII] Emission Line Galaxies

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Upcoming space-based surveys such as Euclid and WFIRST-AFTA plan to measure baryonic acoustic oscillations in order to study dark energy. These surveys will use IR slitless grism spectroscopy to measure redshifts of a large number of galaxies over a significant redshift range. In this paper, we use the Wide Field Camera 3 Infrared Spectroscopic Parallel Survey (WISP) to estimate the expected number of Hα emitters observable by these future surveys. WISP is an ongoing Hubble Space Telescope slitless spectroscopic survey, covering the 0.8–1.65 μm wavelength range and allowing the detection of Hα emitters up to z ∼ 1.5 and [O iii] emitters to z ∼ 2.3. We derive the Hα–[O iii] bivariate line luminosity function (LLF) for WISP galaxies at z ∼ 1 using a maximum likelihood estimator that properly accounts for uncertainties in line luminosity measurements and we demonstrate how it can be used to derive the Hα luminosity function by exclusively fitting [O iii] data. Using the [O iii] LLF and assuming that the relation between Hα and [O iii] luminosity does not change significantly over the redshift range, we predict the Hα number counts at —the upper end of the redshift range of interest for future surveys. For the redshift range we expect ∼3000 galaxies deg−2 for a flux limit of 3 × 10−16 erg s−1 cm−2 (the proposed depth of the Euclid galaxy redshift survey) and ∼20,000 galaxies deg−2 for a flux limit of ∼10−16 erg s−1 cm−2 (the baseline depth of the WFIRST galaxy redshift survey).


Physics and Astronomy

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The Astrophysical Journal