skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: The XQR-30 metal absorber catalogue: 778 absorption systems spanning 2 ≲ z ≲ 6.5
ABSTRACT

Intervening metal absorption lines in the spectra of z ≳ 6 quasars are fundamental probes of the ionization state and chemical composition of circumgalactic and intergalactic gas near the end of the reionization epoch. Large absorber samples are required to robustly measure typical absorber properties and to refine models of the synthesis, transport, and ionization of metals in the early Universe. The Ultimate XSHOOTER legacy survey of quasars at z ∼ 5.8–6.6 (XQR-30) has obtained high signal-to-noise spectra of 30 luminous quasars, nearly quadrupling the existing sample of 12 high quality z ∼ 6 quasar spectra. We use this unprecedented sample to construct a catalogue of 778 systems showing absorption in one or more of Mg ii (360 systems), Fe ii (184), C ii (46), C iv (479), Si iv (127), and N v (13) which span 2 ≲ z ≲ 6.5. This catalogue significantly expands on existing samples of z ≳ 5 absorbers, especially for C iv and Si iv which are important probes of the ionizing photon background at high redshift. The sample is 50 per cent (90 per cent) complete for rest-frame equivalent widths W ≳ 0.03 Å (0.09 Å). We publicly release the absorber catalogue along with completeness statistics and a python script to compute the absorption search path for different ions and redshift ranges. This data set is a key legacy resource for studies of enriched gas from the era of galaxy assembly to cosmic noon, and paves the way for even higher redshift studies with JWST and 30 m-class telescopes.

 
more » « less
Award ID(s):
1751404
NSF-PAR ID:
10400649
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
521
Issue:
1
ISSN:
0035-8711
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 289-313
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. 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) 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.

     
    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT

    We present new observations of 16 bright (r = 19–21) gravitationally lensed galaxies at z ≃ 1–3 selected from the CASSOWARY survey. Included in our sample is the z = 1.42 galaxy CSWA-141, one of the brightest known reionization-era analogues at high redshift (g = 20.5), with a large specific star formation rate (31.2 Gyr−1) and an [O iii]+H β equivalent width (EW[O iii] + H β = 730 Å) that is nearly identical to the average value expected at z ≃ 7–8. In this paper, we investigate the rest-frame UV nebular line emission in our sample with the goal of understanding the factors that regulate strong C iii] emission. Although most of the sources in our sample show weak UV line emission, we find elevated C iii] in the spectrum of CSWA-141 (EWC iii] = 4.6 ± 1.9 Å) together with detections of other prominent emission lines (O iii], Si iii], Fe ii⋆, Mg ii). We compare the rest-optical line properties of high-redshift galaxies with strong and weak C iii] emission, and find that systems with the strongest UV line emission tend to have young stellar populations and nebular gas that is moderately metal-poor and highly ionized, consistent with trends seen at low and high redshift. The brightness of CSWA-141 enables detailed investigation of the extreme emission line galaxies which become common at z > 6. We find that gas traced by the C iii] doublet likely probes higher densities than that traced by [O ii] and [S ii]. Characterization of the spectrally resolved Mg ii emission line and several low-ionization absorption lines suggests neutral gas around the young stars is likely optically thin, potentially facilitating the escape of ionizing radiation.

     
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We analyze the cool gas in and around 14 nearby galaxies (atz< 0.1) mapped with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV MaNGA survey by measuring absorption lines produced by gas in spectra of background quasars/active galactic nuclei at impact parameters of 0–25 effective radii from the galactic centers. Using Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, we detect absorption at the galactic redshift and measure or constrain column densities of neutral (Hi, Ni, Oi, and Ari), low-ionization (Siii, Sii, Cii, Nii, and Feii), and high-ionization (Siiii, Feiii, Nv, and Ovi) species for 11 galaxies. We derive the ionization parameter and ionization-corrected metallicity usingcloudyphotoionization models. The Hicolumn density ranges from ∼1013to ∼1020cm−2and decreases with impact parameter forrRe. Galaxies with higher stellar mass have weaker Hiabsorption. Comparing absorption velocities with MaNGA radial velocity maps of ionized gas line emissions in galactic disks, we find that the neutral gas seen in absorption corotates with the disk out to ∼10Re. Sight lines with lower elevation angles show lower metallicities, consistent with the metallicity gradient in the disk derived from MaNGA maps. Higher-elevation angle sight lines show higher ionization, lower Hicolumn density, supersolar metallicity, and velocities consistent with the direction of galactic outflow. Our data offer the first detailed comparisons of circumgalactic medium (CGM) properties (kinematics and metallicity) with extrapolations of detailed galaxy maps from integral field spectroscopy; similar studies for larger samples are needed to more fully understand how galaxies interact with their CGM.

     
    more » « less
  4. ABSTRACT

    This paper presents a systematic study of the photoionization and thermodynamic properties of the cool circumgalactic medium (CGM) as traced by rest-frame ultraviolet absorption lines around 26 galaxies at redshift z ≲ 1. The study utilizes both high-quality far-ultraviolet and optical spectra of background QSOs and deep galaxy redshift surveys to characterize the gas density, temperature, and pressure of individual absorbing components and to resolve their internal non-thermal motions. The derived gas density spans more than three decades, from $\log (n_{\rm H}/{{\rm cm^{-3}}}) \approx -4$ to −1, while the temperature of the gas is confined in a narrow range of log (T/K) ≈ 4.3 ± 0.3. In addition, a weak anticorrelation between gas density and temperature is observed, consistent with the expectation of the gas being in photoionization equilibrium. Furthermore, decomposing the observed line widths into thermal and non-thermal contributions reveals that more than 30 per cent of the components at z ≲ 1 exhibit line widths driven by non-thermal motions, in comparison to <20 per cent found at z ≈ 2–3. Attributing the observed non-thermal line widths to intra-clump turbulence, we find that massive quenched galaxies on average exhibit higher non-thermal broadening/turbulent energy in their CGM compared to star-forming galaxies at z ≲ 1. Finally, strong absorption features from multiple ions covering a wide range of ionization energy (e.g. from Mg ii to O iv) can be present simultaneously in a single absorption system with kinematically aligned component structure, but the inferred pressure in different phases may differ by a factor of ≈10.

     
    more » « less
  5. ABSTRACT Intervening C iv absorbers are key tracers of metal-enriched gas in galaxy haloes over cosmic time. Previous studies suggest that the C iv cosmic mass density ($\Omega _{\rm C \, \small {IV}}$) decreases slowly over 1.5 $\lesssim \, z\lesssim$ 5 before declining rapidly at z ≳ 5, but the cause of this downturn is poorly understood. We characterize the $\Omega _{\rm C \, \small {IV}}$ evolution over 4.3 ≲ z ≲ 6.3 using 260 absorbers found in 42 XSHOOTER spectra of z ∼ 6 quasars, of which 30 come from the ESO Large Program XQR-30. The large sample enables us to robustly constrain the rate and timing of the downturn. We find that $\Omega _{\rm C \, \small {IV}}$ decreases by a factor of 4.8 ± 2.0 over the ∼300 Myr interval between z ∼ 4.7 and ∼5.8. The slope of the column density (log N) distribution function does not change, suggesting that C iv absorption is suppressed approximately uniformly across 13.2 ≤ log N/cm−2 < 15.0. Assuming that the carbon content of galaxy haloes evolves as the integral of the cosmic star formation rate density (with some delay due to stellar lifetimes and outflow travel times), we show that chemical evolution alone could plausibly explain the fast decline in $\Omega _{\rm C \, \small {IV}}$ over 4.3 ≲ z ≲ 6.3. However, the C iv/C ii ratio decreases at the highest redshifts, so the accelerated decline in $\Omega _{\rm C \, \small {IV}}$ at z ≳ 5 may be more naturally explained by rapid changes in the gas ionization state driven by evolution of the UV background towards the end of hydrogen reionization. 
    more » « less