skip to main content

Title: H α emission in local galaxies: star formation, time variability, and the diffuse ionized gas
ABSTRACT

The nebular recombination line H α is widely used as a star formation rate (SFR) indicator in the local and high-redshift Universe. We present a detailed H α radiative transfer study of high-resolution isolated Milky-Way and Large Magellanic Cloud simulations that include radiative transfer, non-equilibrium thermochemistry, and dust evolution. We focus on the spatial morphology and temporal variability of the H α emission, and its connection to the underlying gas and star formation properties. The H α and H β radial and vertical surface brightness profiles are in excellent agreement with observations of nearby galaxies. We find that the fraction of H α emission from collisional excitation amounts to fcol ∼ 5–$10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, only weakly dependent on radius and vertical height, and that scattering boosts the H α luminosity by $\sim 40{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. The dust correction via the Balmer decrement works well (intrinsic H α emission recoverable within 25 per cent), though the dust attenuation law depends on the amount of attenuation itself both on spatially resolved and integrated scales. Important for the understanding of the H α–SFR connection is the dust and helium absorption of ionizing radiation (Lyman continuum [LyC] photons), which are about $f_{\rm abs}\approx 28{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ and $f_{\rm He}\approx 9{{\ \rm more » per\ cent}}$, respectively. Together with an escape fraction of $f_{\rm esc}\approx 6{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, this reduces the available budget for hydrogen line emission by nearly half ($f_{\rm H}\approx 57{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$). We discuss the impact of the diffuse ionized gas, showing – among other things – that the extraplanar H α emission is powered by LyC photons escaping the disc. Future applications of this framework to cosmological (zoom-in) simulations will assist in the interpretation of spectroscopy of high-redshift galaxies with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope.

« less
Authors:
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Award ID(s):
1945310 2008490 1814259 2107724 2007355 1909933
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10366765
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
513
Issue:
2
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2904-2929
ISSN:
0035-8711
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT

    Hydrogen emission lines can provide extensive information about star-forming galaxies in both the local and high-redshift Universe. We present a detailed Lyman continuum (LyC), Lyman-α (Lyα), and Balmer line (Hα and Hβ) radiative transfer study of a high-resolution isolated Milky Way simulation using the state-of-the-art Arepo-RT radiation hydrodynamics code with the SMUGGLE galaxy formation model. The realistic framework includes stellar feedback, non-equilibrium thermochemistry accounting for molecular hydrogen, and dust grain evolution in the interstellar medium (ISM). We extend our publicly available Cosmic Lyα Transfer (COLT) code with photoionization equilibrium Monte Carlo radiative transfer and various methodology improvements for self-consistent end-to-end (non-)resonant line predictions. Accurate LyC reprocessing to recombination emission requires modelling pre-absorption by dust ($f_\text{abs} \approx 27.5\,\rm{per\,\,cent}$), helium ionization ($f_\text{He} \approx 8.7\,\rm{per\,\,cent}$), and anisotropic escape fractions ($f_\text{esc} \approx 7.9\,\rm{per\,\,cent}$), as these reduce the available budget for hydrogen line emission ($f_\text{H} \approx 55.9\,\rm{per\,\,cent}$). We investigate the role of the multiphase dusty ISM, disc geometry, gas kinematics, and star formation activity in governing the physics of emission and escape, focusing on the time variability, gas-phase structure, and spatial spectral, and viewing angle dependence of the emergent photons. Isolated disc simulations are well-suited for comprehensive observational comparisons with local Hα surveys, butmore »would require a proper cosmological circumgalactic medium (CGM) environment as well as less dust absorption and rotational broadening to serve as analogs for high-redshift Lyα emitting galaxies. Future applications of our framework to next-generation cosmological simulations of galaxy formation including radiation-hydrodynamics that resolve ≲10 pc multiphase ISM and ≲1 kpc CGM structures will provide crucial insights and predictions for current and upcoming Lyα observations.

    « less
  2. ABSTRACT

    The ionizing photon escape fraction [Lyman continuum (LyC) fesc] of star-forming galaxies is the single greatest unknown in the reionization budget. Stochastic sightline effects prohibit the direct separation of LyC leakers from non-leakers at significant redshifts. Here we circumvent this uncertainty by inferring fesc using resolved (R > 4000) Lyman α (Lyα) profiles from the X-SHOOTER Lyα survey at z = 2 (XLS-z2). With empirically motivated criteria, we use Lyα profiles to select leakers ($f_{\mathrm{ esc}} > 20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) and non-leakers ($f_{\mathrm{ esc}} < 5{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$) from a representative sample of >0.2L* Lyman α emitters (LAEs). We use median stacked spectra of these subsets over λrest ≈ 1000–8000 Å to investigate the conditions for LyC fesc. Our stacks show similar mass, metallicity, MUV, and βUV. We find the following differences between leakers versus non-leakers: (i) strong nebular C iv and He ii emission versus non-detections; (ii) [O iii]/[O ii] ≈ 8.5 versus ≈3; (iii) Hα/Hβ indicating no dust versus E(B − V) ≈ 0.3; (iv) Mg ii emission close to the systemic velocity versus redshifted, optically thick Mg ii; and (v) Lyα fesc of ${\approx} 50{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ versus ${\approx} 10{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$. The extreme equivalent widths (EWs) in leakers ([O iii]+$\mathrm{ H}\beta \approx 1100$ Å rest frame)more »constrain the characteristic time-scale of LyC escape to ≈3–10 Myr bursts when short-lived stars with the hardest ionizing spectra shine. The defining traits of leakers – extremely ionizing stellar populations, low column densities, a dust-free, high-ionization state interstellar medium (ISM) – occur simultaneously in the $f_{\rm esc} > 20{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ stack, suggesting they are causally connected, and motivating why indicators like [O iii]/[O ii] may suffice to constrain fesc at z > 6 with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). The leakers comprise half of our sample, have a median LyC$f_{\rm esc} \approx 50{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ (conservative range: $20\!-\!55{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$), and an ionizing production efficiency $\log ({\xi _{\rm {ion}}/\rm {Hz\ erg^{-1}}})\approx 25.9$ (conservative range: 25.7–25.9). These results show LAEs – the type of galaxies rare at z ≈ 2, but that become the norm at higher redshift – are highly efficient ionizers, with extreme ξion and prolific fesc occurring in sync.

    « less
  3. ABSTRACT We present the escape fraction of hydrogen ionizing photons (fesc) from a sample of 34 high-resolution cosmological zoom-in simulations of galaxies at z ≥ 5 in the Feedback in Realistic Environments project, post-processed with a Monte Carlo radiative transfer code for ionizing radiation. Our sample consists of 8500 haloes in Mvir ∼ 108–$10^{12}\, M_{\odot }$ (M* ∼ 104–$10^{10}\, M_{\odot }$) at z = 5–12. We find the sample average 〈fesc〉increases with halo mass for Mvir ∼ 108–$10^{9.5}\, M_{\odot }$, becomes nearly constant for 109.5–$10^{11}\, M_{\odot }$, and decreases at ${\gtrsim}10^{11}\, M_{\odot }$. Equivalently, 〈fesc〉 increases with stellar mass up to $M_{\ast }\sim 10^8\, M_{\odot }$ and decreases at higher masses. Even applying single-star stellar population synthesis models, we find a moderate 〈fesc〉 ∼ 0.2 for galaxies at $M_{\ast }\sim 10^8\, M_{\odot }$. Nearly half of the escaped ionizing photons come from stars 1–3 Myr old and the rest from stars 3–10 Myr old. Binaries only have a modest effect, boosting 〈fesc〉 by ∼25–35 per cent and the number of escaped photons by 60–80 per cent. Most leaked ionizing photons are from vigorously star-forming regions that usually contain a feedback-driven kpc-scale superbubble surrounded by a dense shell. The shell is forming stars while accelerated, so new stars formed earlier in themore »shell are already inside the shell. Young stars in the bubble and near the edge of the shell can fully ionize some low-column-density paths pre-cleared by feedback, allowing a large fraction of their ionizing photons to escape. The decrease of 〈fesc〉 at the high-mass end is due to dust attenuation, while at the low-mass end, 〈fesc〉 decreases owing to inefficient star formation and hence feedback. At fixed mass, 〈fesc〉 tends to increase with redshift. Although the absolute 〈fesc〉does not fully converge with resolution in our simulations, the mass- and redshift-dependence of 〈fesc〉 is likely robust. Our simulations produce sufficient ionizing photons for cosmic reionization.« less
  4. Abstract We present an update to the framework called Simulator of Galaxy Millimeter/submillimeter Emission ( sígame ). sígame derives line emission in the far-infrared (FIR) for galaxies in particle-based cosmological hydrodynamics simulations by applying radiative transfer and physics recipes via a postprocessing step after completion of the simulation. In this version, a new technique is developed to model higher gas densities by parameterizing the probability distribution function (PDF) of the gas density in higher-resolution simulations run with the pseudo-Lagrangian, Voronoi mesh code arepo . The parameterized PDFs are used as a look-up table, and reach higher densities than in previous work. sígame v3 is tested on redshift z = 0 galaxies drawn from the simba cosmological simulation for eight FIR emission lines tracing vastly different phases of the interstellar medium. This version of sígame includes dust radiative transfer with S kirt and high-resolution photoionization models with C loudy , the latter sampled according to the density PDF of the arepo simulations to augment the densities in the cosmological simulation. The quartile distributions of the predicted line luminosities overlap with the observed range for nearby galaxies of similar star formation rate (SFR) for all but two emission lines: [O i ]63more »and CO(3–2), which are overestimated by median factors of 1.3 and 1.0 dex, respectively, compared to the observed line–SFR relation of mixed-type galaxies. We attribute the remaining disagreement with observations to the lack of precise attenuation of the interstellar light on sub-grid scales (≲200 pc) and differences in sample selection.« less
  5. ABSTRACT

    We present deep rest-frame UV spectroscopic observations using the Gran Telescopio Canarias of six gravitationally lensed Lyα emitters (LAEs) at 2.36 < z < 2.82 selected from the BELLS GALLERY survey. By taking the magnifications into account, we show that LAEs can be as luminous as LLyα ≃ 30 × 1042 erg s−1 and MUV ≃ −23 (AB) without invoking an AGN component, in contrast with previous findings. We measure Lyα rest-frame equivalent widths, $EW_{0}\,\rm (Ly\alpha)$, ranging from 16 to 50 Å and Lyα escape fractions, $f_{\rm esc}\, \rm (Ly\alpha)$, from 10 per cent to 40 per cent. Large $EW_{0}\, \rm (Ly\alpha)$ and $f_{\rm esc}\, \rm (Ly\alpha)$ are found predominantly in LAEs showing weak low-ionization ISM absorption (EW0 ≲ 1 Å) and narrow Lyα profiles (≲300 km s−1 FWHM) with their peak close (≲80 km s−1) to their systemic redshifts, suggestive of less scatter from low H i column densities that favours the escape of Lyα photons. We infer stellar metallicities of Z/Z⊙ ≃ 0.2 in almost all LAEs by comparing the P-Cygni profiles of the wind lines N v1240 Å and C iv1549 Å with those from stellar synthesis models. We also find a trend between MUV and the velocity offset of ISM absorption lines, such as the most luminous LAEs experience stronger outflows. The most luminous LAEsmore »show star formation rates up to ≃180 M⊙ yr−1, yet they appear relatively blue (βUV ≃ −1.8 to −2.0) showing evidence of little dust attenuation [E(B − V) = 0.10–0.14]. These luminous LAEs may be particular cases of young starburst galaxies that have had no time to form large amounts of dust. If so, they are ideal laboratories to study the early phase of massive star formation, stellar and dust mass growth, and chemical enrichment histories of starburst galaxies at high-z.

    « less