First Look at z > 1 Bars in the Rest-frame Near-infrared with JWST Early CEERS Imaging

Yuchen Guo, Shardha Jogee, Steven L. Finkelstein, Zilei Chen, Eden Wise, Micaela B. Bagley, Guillermo Barro, Stijn Wuyts, Dale D. Kocevski, Jeyhan S. Kartaltepe, Elizabeth J. Mcgrath, Henry C. Ferguson, Bahram Mobasher, Mauro Giavalisco, Ray A. Lucas, Jorge A. Zavala, Jennifer M. Lotz, Norman A. Grogin, Marc Huertas-Company, Jesús Vega-FerreroNimish P. Hathi, Pablo Arrabal Haro, Mark Dickinson, Anton M. Koekemoer, Casey Papovich, Nor Pirzkal, L. Y. Aaron yung, Bren E. Backhaus, Eric F. Bell, Antonello Calabrò, Nikko J. Cleri, Rosemary T. Coogan, M. C. Cooper, Luca Costantin, Darren Croton, Kelcey Davis, Avishai Dekel, Maximilien Franco, Jonathan P. Gardner, Benne W. Holwerda, Taylor A. Hutchison, Viraj Pandya, Pablo G. Pérez-González, Swara Ravindranath, Caitlin Rose, Jonathan R. Trump, Alexander De la vega, Weichen Wang

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Stellar bars are key drivers of secular evolution in galaxies and can be effectively studied using rest-frame near-infrared (NIR) images, which trace the underlying stellar mass and are less impacted by dust and star formation than rest-frame UV or optical images. We leverage the power of JWST CEERS NIRCam images to present the first quantitative identification and characterization of stellar bars at z > 1 based on rest-frame NIR F444W images of high resolution (∼1.3 kpc at z ∼ 1-3). We identify stellar bars in these images using quantitative criteria based on ellipse fits. For this pilot study, we present six examples of robustly identified bars at z > 1 with spectroscopic redshifts, including the two highest-redshift bars at z ∼ 2.136 and 2.312 quantitatively identified and characterized to date. The stellar bars at z ∼ 1.1-2.3 presented in our study have projected semimajor axes of ∼2.9-4.3 kpc and projected ellipticities of ∼0.41-0.53 in the rest-frame NIR. The barred host galaxies have stellar masses ∼1 × 10 10 to 2 × 10 11 M and star formation rates of ∼21-295 M yr −1, and several have potential nearby companions. Our finding of bars at z ∼ 1.1-2.3 demonstrates the early onset of such instabilities and supports simulations where bars form early in massive dynamically cold disks. It also suggests that if these bars at lookback times of 8-11 Gyr survive out to present epochs, bar-driven secular processes may operate over a long time and have a significant impact on some galaxies by z ∼ 0.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL10
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the entire JWST team, including the engineers for making possible this wonderful overperforming telescope, the commissioning team for obtaining these early data, and the pipeline teams for their work over the years building and supporting the pipeline. Y.G. and S.J. acknowledge support from the Roland K. Blumberg Endowment in Astronomy and Heising-Simons Foundation grant 2017-0464. M.B.B. and S.L.F. acknowledge support from NASA through STScI ERS award JWST-ERS-1345. The authors acknowledge the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin for providing HPC and visualization resources that have contributed to the research results reported within this paper (


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