Sub-Millimetre Galaxies with Webb: Near-Infrared Counterparts and Multi-wavelength Morphology

S. Gillman*, B. Gullberg, G. Brammer, A. Vijayan, M. Lee, D. Blánquez, M. Brinch, T. Greve, I. Jermann, S. Jin, V. Kokorev, L. Liu, G. Magdis, F. Rizzo, F. Valentino

*Corresponding author for this work

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We utilised the unprecedented depth and resolution of recent early-release science (ERS) JWST observations to define the near-infrared counterparts of sub-millimetre galaxies (SMGs). We identified 45 SCUBA-2 SMG positions within the Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science (CEERS) survey JWST/NIRCam fields. Through an analysis of multi-wavelength p-values, NIRCam colours and predicted SCUBA-2 fluxes, we define 43 JWST/NIRCam counterparts to the SCUBA-2 SMGs, finding a 63 per cent agreement with those identified in prior HST studies. Using EaZy-py, we fitted the available HST and JWST observations to quantify the photometric redshifts of the NIRCam-SMGs, establishing a broad range of redshift from z ≈ 0.2–5.4 with a median of z ≈ 2.29, in agreement with other studies of SMGs. We identified significant variations in the morphology of the NIRCam-SMGs from isolated discs and spheroidal galaxies to irregular interacting systems. We analysed their rest-frame optical and near-infrared morphological properties (e.g. effective radius (Re), Sérsic index (n), concentration (C), asymmetry (A), clumpiness (S), as well as the Gini and M20 parameters), finding, on average, late-type disc-like morphologies with large scatter into the intermediate and merger regions of the non-parametric parameter space. For the non-merging galaxies, we find a median rest-frame optical size and Sérsic index (and 1σ scatter) of Re = 3.10 ± 1.67 kpc and n = 0.96 ± 0.66. Whilst in the rest-frame near-infrared, we establish more compact, higher Sérsic index morphologies (Re = 1.64 ± 0.97, n = 1.85 ± 0.63). We further establish that both the rest-frame optical and near-infrared effective radii correlate negatively (at a 2σ level) with redshift, whilst the Sérsic index remains constant with cosmic time. Our results are consistent with the picture of inside-out galaxy evolution, with more centrally concentrated older stellar populations, and more extended, younger star-forming regions whose stellar emission is heavily attenuated in the central regions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number A26
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: structure
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Submillimeter: galaxies


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