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Astrophysical Journal


We present results of our large area survey for z'-band dropout galaxies at z = 7 in a 1568 arcmin2 sky area covering the SDF and GOODS-N fields. Combining our ultra-deep Subaru/Suprime-Cam z'- and y-band (λeff = 1 μm) images with legacy data of Subaru and Hubble Space Telescope, we have identified 22 bright z-dropout galaxies down to y = 26, one of which has a spectroscopic redshift of z = 6.96 determined from Lyα emission. The z = 7 luminosity function yields the best-fit Schechter parameters of ϕ* = 0.69+2.62−0.55 × 10−3 Mpc−3, M*UV = −20.10 ±  0.76 mag, and α = −1.72 ± 0.65, and indicates a decrease from z = 6 at a >95% confidence level. This decrease is beyond the cosmic variance in our two fields, which is estimated to be a factor of ≲2. We have found that the cosmic star formation rate density drops from the peak at z = 2–3 to z = 7 roughly by a factor of ∼10 but not larger than ∼100. A comparison with the reionization models suggests either that the universe could not be totally ionized by only galaxies at z = 7, or more likely that properties of galaxies at z = 7 are different from those at low redshifts having, e.g., a larger escape fraction (≳0.2), a lower metallicity, and/or a flatter initial mass function. Our SDF z-dropout galaxies appear to form 60 Mpc long filamentary structures, and the z = 6.96 galaxy with Lyα emission is located at the center of an overdense region consisting of four UV bright dropout candidates, which might suggest an existence of a well-developed ionized bubble at z = 7.