Context. Dusty high-z galaxies are extreme objects with high star formation rates (SFRs) and luminosities. Characterising the properties of this population and analysing their evolution over cosmic time is key to understanding galaxy evolution in the early Universe.
Aims. We select a sample of high-z dusty star-forming galaxies (DSFGs) and evaluate their position on the main sequence (MS) of star-forming galaxies, the well-known correlation between stellar mass and SFR. We aim to understand the causes of their high star formation and quantify the percentage of DSFGs that lie above the MS.
Methods. We adopted a multi-wavelength approach with data from optical to submillimetre wavelengths from surveys at the North Ecliptic Pole to study a submillimetre sample of high-redshift galaxies. Two submillimetre selection methods were used, including: sources selected at 850 μm with the Sub-millimetre Common-User Bolometer Array 2) SCUBA-2 instrument and Herschel-Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) selected sources (colour-colour diagrams and 500 μm risers), finding that 185 have good multi-wavelength coverage. The resulting sample of 185 high-z candidates was further studied by spectral energy distribution fitting with the CIGALE fitting code. We derived photometric redshifts, stellar masses, SFRs, and additional physical parameters, such as the infrared luminosity and active galactic nuclei (AGN) contribution.
Results. We find that the Herschel-SPIRE selected DSFGs generally have higher redshifts (z = 2.57−0.09+0.08) than sources that are selected solely by the SCUBA-2 method (z = 1.45−0.06+0.21). We find moderate SFRs (797−50+108 M⊙ yr−1), which are typically lower than those found in other studies. We find that the different results in the literature are, only in part, due to selection effects, as even in the most extreme cases, SFRs are still lower than a few thousand solar masses per year. The difference in measured SFRs affects the position of DSFGs on the MS of galaxies; most of the DSFGs lie on the MS (60%). Finally, we find that the star formation efficiency (SFE) depends on the epoch and intensity of the star formation burst in the galaxy; the later the burst, the more intense the star formation. We discuss whether the higher SFEs in DSFGs could be due to mergers.