A Rest-frame Near-IR Study of Clumps in Galaxies at 1 < z < 2 Using JWST/NIRCam: Connection to Galaxy Bulges

Boris S. Kalita, John D. Silverman, Emanuele Daddi, Connor Bottrell, Luis C. Ho, Xuheng Ding, Lilan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A key question in galaxy evolution has been the importance of the apparent “clumpiness” of high-redshift galaxies. Until now, this property has been primarily investigated in rest-frame UV, limiting our understanding of their relevance. Are they short-lived or are they associated with more long-lived massive structures that are part of the underlying stellar disks? We use JWST/NIRCam imaging from the Cosmic Evolution and Epoch of Reionization Survey to explore the connection between the presence of these “clumps” in a galaxy and its overall stellar morphology, in a mass-complete ( log M * / M ⊙ > 10.0 ) sample of galaxies at 1.0 < z < 2.0. Exploiting the uninterrupted access to rest-frame optical and near-IR light, we simultaneously map the clumps in galactic disks across our wavelength coverage, along with measuring the distribution of stars among their bulges and disks. First, we find that the clumps are not limited to the rest-frame UV and optical, but are also apparent in near-IR with ∼60% spatial overlap. This rest-frame near-IR detection indicates that clumps would also feature in the stellar-mass distribution of the galaxy. A secondary consequence is that these will hence be expected to increase the dynamical friction within galactic disks leading to gas inflow. We find a strong negative correlation between how clumpy a galaxy is and strength of the bulge. This firmly suggests an evolutionary connection, either through clumps driving bulge growth or the bulge stabilizing the galaxy against clump formation, or a combination of the two. Finally, we find evidence of this correlation differing from rest-frame optical to near-IR, which could suggest a combination of varying formation modes for the clumps.

Original languageEnglish
Article number25
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Early online date19 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


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