THE E-ELT DESIGN REFERENCE MISSION - SCIENCE CASE C4
First light – the highest redshift galaxies
We propose to use integrated JHK spectroscopy on the E-ELT (in GLAO mode) to identify the first UV emitting sources in the Universe responsible for reionization at z > 6. The galaxy candidates will be identified via the Lyman-break technique with upcoming deep space-based and ground-based near-IR surveys (with HST/WFC3, Spitzer, VISTA and JWST). The source densities at z ~ 8 are about 1 arcmin-2 at HAB = 28.5, for which an ELT spectrograph equipped with a GLAO or LTAO/MOAO system will be necessary to obtain redshifts and to understand their physical properties. These observations will probe an era of a few hundreds million years right at the end of the "dark ages", will identify the sources of reionization and yield their luminosity function. Such a program will give the first insight into the crucial early stages of galaxy formation process.
Project Science Team
Phase B (2006 – 2011)