Recalibrating the cosmic star formation history

S. M. Wilkins, C. C. Lovell, E. R. Stanway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


The calibrations linking observed luminosities to the star formation rate (SFR) depend on the assumed stellar population synthesis model, initial mass function, star formation and metal enrichment history, and whether reprocessing by dust and gas is included. Consequently the shape and normalization of the inferred cosmic star formation history is sensitive to these assumptions. Using v2.2.1 of the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) model we determine a new set of calibration coefficients for the ultraviolet, thermal infrared, and hydrogen recombination lines. These ultraviolet and thermal infrared coefficients are 0.15–0.2 dex higher than those widely utilized in the literature while the H α coefficient is ∼0.35 dex larger. These differences arise in part due to the inclusion binary evolution pathways but predominantly reflect an extension in the IMF to 300 M⊙ and a change in the choice of reference metallicity. We use these new coefficients to recalibrate the cosmic star formation history, and find improved agreement between the integrated cosmic star formation history and the in situ measured stellar mass density as a function of redshift. However, these coefficients produce new tension between SFR densities inferred from the ultraviolet and thermal infrared and those from H α.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5359-5365
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Early online date16 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: luminosity function, mass function
  • Galaxies: photometry
  • Methods: numerical
  • UKRI
  • STFC
  • ST/P000495/1

Cite this