Predictions for the counts of faint, high-redshift galaxies in the mid-infrared

Zoltán Haiman, David N. Spergel, Edwin L. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Deep mid-infrared (MIR) observations could reveal a population of faint, high-redshift (z > 3), dusty star-burst galaxies that are the progenitors of present-day spheroids or bulges and are beyond the reach of current instruments. We utilize a semianalytic galaxy formation scheme to find a range of models for the MIR galaxy counts, down to a flux level of a few nanojanskys. The models incorporate the formation of heavily dustenshrouded stellar populations at high redshift and are consistent with existing observations, including faint counts at 1.6 μm in the NICMOS Hubble Deep Field, and the upper limit on the extragalactic MIR background from TeV gamma rays. Our models predict ∼0.04-0.4 galaxies arcsec-2 at the threshold of 100 nJy at 6 μm, with a comparable or larger surface density at longer MIR wavelengths. We conclude that a significant new population of high-redshift galaxies could be detected by the James Webb Space Telescope. Such a population would constitute background noise for the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) and could necessitate repeat observations: every TPF resolution element would have a chance of up to ∼10% of being contaminated by a background galaxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)630-637
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Mar 10 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Cosmology: theory
  • Early universe
  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Infrared: galaxies


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