A Lens Finder Map to Check Claimed High-z Galaxies behind SMACS J0723.3-7327

Alex Chow, Sung Kei Li, Jeremy Lim, Tom Broadhurst, Man Cheung Alex Li, James Nianias, Jake Summers, Rogier Windhorst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The first science image released by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals numerous galaxies in the distant background of the galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327. Some have claimed redshifts of up to z ≃ 20, challenging standard cosmological models for structure formation. Here, we present a lens model for SMACS J0723.3-7327 anchored on five spectroscopically confirmed systems at 1.38 ≤ z ≤ 2.21 that are multiply lensed, along with 12 other systems with proposed image counterparts sharing common colors, spectral energy distributions, and morphological features, but having unknown redshifts. Constrained only by their image positions, and where available, redshifts, our lens model correctly reproduces the positions and correctly predicts the morphologies and relative brightnesses of all these image counterparts, as well as providing geometrically determined redshifts spanning 1.4 ≲ z ≲ 6.7 for the 12 candidate multiply lensed galaxies lacking spectroscopic measurements. From this lens model, we create a lens finder map that defines regions over which galaxies beyond a certain redshift are predicted to be multiply lensed. Applying this map to three galaxies claimed to be at 10 ≲ z ≲ 20, we find no image counterparts at locations (with an uncertainty of ∼0.″5) where they ought to be sufficiently magnified to be detectable—suggesting instead that these galaxies lie at z ≲ 1.7-3.2. In lieu of spectroscopy, the creation of reliable lens finder maps for cluster fields is urgently needed to test and constrain redshifts inferred from photometry for a rapidly increasing number of candidate high-z galaxies found with JWST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number30
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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