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Photometric redshifts are estimated on the basis of template scenarios with the help of the code ZPEG, an extension of the galaxy evolution model PEGASE.2 and available on the PEGASE web site. The spectral energy distribution (SED) templates are computed for nine spectral types including starburst, irregular, spiral and elliptical. Dust, extinction and metal effects are coherently taken into account, depending on evolution scenarios. The sensitivity of results to adding near-infrared colors and IGM absorption is analyzed. A comparison with results of other models without evolution measures the evolution factor which systematically increases the estimated photometric redshift values by $Delta z$ > 0.2 for z > 1.5. Moreover we systematically check that the evolution scenarios match observational standard templates of nearby galaxies, implying an age constraint of the stellar population at z=0 for each type. The respect of this constraint makes it possible to significantly improve the accuracy of photometric redshifts by decreasing the well-known degeneracy problem. The method is applied to the HDF-N sample. From fits on SED templates by a $chi^2$-minimization procedure, not only is the photometric redshift derived but also the corresponding spectral type and the formation redshift $z_for$ when stars first formed. Early epochs of galaxy formation z > 5 are found from this new method and results are compared to faint galaxy count interpretations.
PÉGASE (Projet d'Étude des GAlaxies par Synthèse Évolutive) is a code to compute the spectral evolution of galaxies. The evolution of the stars, gas and metals is followed for a law of star formation and a stellar initial mass function. The stellar evolutionary tracks extend from the main sequence to the white dwarf stage. The emission of the gas in HII regions is also taken into account. The main improvement in version 2 is the use of evolutionary tracks of different metallicities (from 10-4 to 5×solar). The effect of extinction by dust is also modelled using a radiative transfer code. PÉGASE.2 uses the BaSeL library of stellar spectra and can therefore synthesize low-resolution (R~200) ultraviolet to near-infrared spectra of Hubble sequence galaxies as well as of starbursts.
PÉGASE-HR is a code aimed at computing synthetic evolutive optical spectra of galaxies with a very high resolution (R=10 000, or dlambda=0.55) in the range Lambda=[4000, 6800] Angstroms. PÉGASE-HR is the result of combining the code PÉGASE.2 with the high-resolution stellar library ÉLODIE. This code can also be used at low resolution (R=200) over the range covered by the BaSeL library (from far UV to the near IR), and then produces the same results as PÉGASE.2. In PEGASE-HR, the BaSeL library is replaced by a grid of spectra interpolated from the high-resolution ÉLODIE library of stellar spectra. The ÉLODIE library is a stellar database of 1959 spectra for 1503 stars, observed with the echelle spectrograph ÉLODIE on the 193 cm telescope at the Observatoire de Haute Provence.