The Brightest of Reionizing Galaxies Survey: Design and Preliminary Results

Trenti, M.; Bradley, L. D.; Stiavelli, M.; Oesch, P.; Treu, T.; Bouwens, R. J.; Shull, J. M.; MacKenty, J. W.; Carollo, C. M.; Illingworth, G. D.


We present the first results on the search for very bright (M AB ≈ –21) galaxies at redshift z ~ 8 from the Brightest of Reionizing Galaxies (BoRG) survey. BoRG is a Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) pure-parallel survey that is obtaining images on random lines of sight at high Galactic latitudes in four filters (F606W, F098M, F125W, and F160W), with integration times optimized to identify galaxies at z >~ 7.5 as F098M dropouts. We discuss here results from a search area of approximately 130 arcmin2 over 23 BoRG fields, complemented by six other pure-parallel WFC3 fields with similar filters. This new search area is more than two times wider than previous WFC3 observations at z ~ 8. We identify four F098M-dropout candidates with high statistical confidence (detected at greater than 8σ confidence in F125W). These sources are among the brightest candidates currently known at z ~ 8 and approximately 10 times brighter than the z = 8.56 galaxy UDFy-38135539. They thus represent ideal targets for spectroscopic follow-up observations and could potentially lead to a redshift record, as our color selection includes objects up to z ~ 9. However, the expected contamination rate of our sample is about 30% higher than typical searches for dropout galaxies in legacy fields, such as the GOODS and HUDF, where deeper data and additional optical filters are available to reject contaminants.

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