Discovering extremely compact and metal-poor, star-forming dwarf galaxies out to z ~ 0.9 in the VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey [CL]

We report the discovery of 31 low-luminosity (-14.5 < M_{AB}(B) < -18.8), extreme emission line galaxies (EELGs) at 0.3 < z < 0.9 identified by their unusually high rest-frame equivalent widths (100 < EW[OIII] < 1700 A) as part of the VIMOS Ultra Deep Survey (VUDS). VIMOS optical spectra of unprecedented sensitivity ($I_{AB}$ ~ 25 mag) along with multiwavelength photometry and HST imaging are used to investigate spectrophotometric properties of this unique sample and explore, for the first time, the very low stellar mass end (M* < 10^8 M$_{\odot}$) of the luminosity-metallicity (LZR) and mass-metallicity (MZR) relations at z < 1. Characterized by their extreme compactness (R50 < 1 kpc), low stellar mass and enhanced specific star formation rates (SFR/M* ~ 10^{-9} – 10^{-7} yr^{-1}), the VUDS EELGs are blue dwarf galaxies likely experiencing the first stages of a vigorous galaxy-wide starburst. Using T_e-sensitive direct and strong-line methods, we find that VUDS EELGs are low-metallicity (7.5 < 12+log(O/H) < 8.3) galaxies with high ionization conditions i.e. median OIII/OII = 4 (\pm 5). Moreover, we find at least three objects showing HeII 4686A emission and four EELGs of extremely low metallicities (<10% solar). The LZR and MZR followed by EELGs are broadly consistent with the extrapolation toward low mass of these relations from previous studies at similar redshift. However, we find evidences that galaxies with younger and more vigorous star formation — as characterized by their larger Hbeta and [OIII] EWs, sSFR and higher ionization parameters — tend to be more metal-poor at a given luminosity and stellar mass. These results are discussed in the context of the fundamental metallicity relation linking mass metallicity and SFR.

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R. Amorin, V. Sommariva, M. Castellano, et. al.
Tue, 18 Mar 14