We analyze the rest-frame near-UV and optical nebular spectra of three z > 7 galaxies from the Early Release Observations taken with the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). These three high-z galaxies show the detection of several strong emission nebular lines, including the temperature-sensitive [O iii] λ4363 line, allowing us to directly determine the nebular conditions and abundances for O/H, C/O, and Ne/O. We derive O/H abundances and ionization parameters that are generally consistent with other recent analyses. We analyze the mass-metallicity relationship (i.e., slope) and its redshift evolution by comparing between the three z > 7 galaxies and local star-forming galaxies. We also detect the C iii] λλ1907, 1909 emission in a z > 8 galaxy from which we determine the most distant C/O abundance to date. This valuable detection of log(C/O) = −0.83 ± 0.38 provides the first test of C/O redshift evolution out to high redshift. For neon, we use the high-ionization [Ne iii] λ3869 line to measure the first Ne/O abundances at z > 7, finding no evolution in this α-element ratio. We explore the tentative detection of [Fe ii] and [Fe iii] lines in a z > 8 galaxy, which would indicate a rapid buildup of metals. Importantly, we demonstrate that properly flux-calibrated and higher-S/N spectra are crucial to robustly determine the abundance pattern in z > 7 galaxies with NIRSpec/JWST.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the referee for thoughtful feedback that improved this letter. The Early Release Observations and associated materials were developed, executed, and compiled by the ERO production team: Hannah Braun, Claire Blome, Matthew Brown, Margaret Carruthers, Dan Coe, Joseph DePasquale, Nestor Espinoza, Macarena Garcia Marin, Karl Gordon, Alaina Henry, Leah Hustak, Andi James, Ann Jenkins, Anton Koekemoer, Stephanie LaMassa, David Law, Alexandra Lockwood, Amaya Moro-Martin, Susan Mullally, Alyssa Pagan, Dani Player, Klaus Pontoppidan, Charles Proffitt, Christine Pulliam, Leah Ramsay, Swara Ravindranath, Neill Reid, Massimo Robberto, Elena Sabbi, and Leonardo Ubeda. The EROs were also made possible by the foundational efforts and support from the JWST instruments, STScI planning and scheduling, and data management teams.
© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.