skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: The MOSDEF-LRIS survey: detection of inflowing gas towards three star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 2

We report on the discovery of cool gas inflows towards three star-forming galaxies at <z> ∼ 2.30. Analysis of Keck Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer spectroscopy reveals redshifted low-ionization interstellar (LIS) metal absorption lines with centroid velocities of 60–130 km s−1. These inflows represent some of the most robust detections of inflowing gas into isolated, star-forming galaxies at high redshift. Our analysis suggests that the inflows are due to recycling metal-enriched gas from previous ejections. Comparisons between the galaxies with inflows and a larger parent sample of 131 objects indicate that galaxies with detected inflows may have higher specific star formation rates (sSFRs) and star-formation-rate surface densities (ΣSFR). However, when additional galaxies without robustly detected inflows based on centroid velocity but whose LIS absorption line profiles indicate large red-wing velocities are considered, galaxies with inflows do not show unique properties relative to those lacking inflows. Additionally, we calculate the covering fraction of cool inflowing gas as a function of red-wing inflow velocity, finding an enhancement in high-sSFR binned galaxies, likely due to an increase in the amount of recycling gas. Together, these results suggest that the low detection rate of galaxies with cool inflows is primarily related to the viewing angle rather than the physical properties of the galaxies.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Medium: X Size: p. 5624-5634
["p. 5624-5634"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this

    We investigate the conditions that facilitate galactic-scale outflows using a sample of 155 typical star-forming galaxies at z ∼ 2 drawn from the MOSFIRE Deep Evolution Field (MOSDEF) survey. The sample includes deep rest-frame UV spectroscopy from the Keck Low-Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (LRIS), which provides spectral coverage of several low-ionization interstellar (LIS) metal absorption lines and Lyα emission. Outflow velocities are calculated from the centroids of the LIS absorption and/or Lyα emission, as well as the highest velocity component of the outflow from the blue wings of the LIS absorption lines. Outflow velocities are found to be marginally correlated or independent of galaxy properties, such as star-formation rate (SFR) and star-formation rate surface density (ΣSFR). Outflow velocity scales with SFR as a power-law with index 0.24, which suggests that the outflows may be primarily driven by mechanical energy generated by supernovae explosions, as opposed to radiation pressure acting on dusty material. On the other hand, outflow velocity and ΣSFR are not significantly correlated, which may be due to the limited dynamic range of ΣSFR probed by our sample. The relationship between outflow velocity and ΣSFR normalized by stellar mass (ΣsSFR), as a proxy for gravitational potential, suggests that strong outflows (e.g. > 200 km s−1) become common above a threshold of log(ΣsSFR/$\rm {yr}^{-1}\ \rm {kpc}^{-2}$) ∼ −11.3, and that above this threshold, outflow velocity uncouples from ΣsSFR. These results highlight the need for higher resolution spectroscopic data and spatially resolved imaging to test the driving mechanisms of outflows predicted by theory.

    more » « less
  2. Abstract We report the detection of 23 OH + 1 → 0 absorption, emission, or P-Cygni-shaped lines and CO( J = 9→8) emission lines in 18 Herschel-selected z = 2–6 starburst galaxies with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array and the NOrthern Extended Millimeter Array, taken as part of the Gas And Dust Over cosmic Time Galaxy Survey. We find that the CO( J = 9→8) luminosity is higher than expected based on the far-infrared luminosity when compared to nearby star-forming galaxies. Together with the strength of the OH + emission components, this may suggest that shock excitation of warm, dense molecular gas is more prevalent in distant massive dusty starbursts than in nearby star-forming galaxies on average, perhaps due to an impact of galactic winds on the gas. OH + absorption is found to be ubiquitous in massive high-redshift starbursts, and is detected toward 89% of the sample. The majority of the sample shows evidence for outflows or inflows based on the velocity shifts of the OH + absorption/emission, with a comparable occurrence rate of both at the resolution of our observations. A small subsample appears to show outflow velocities in excess of their escape velocities. Thus, starburst-driven feedback appears to be important in the evolution of massive galaxies in their most active phases. We find a correlation between the OH + absorption optical depth and the dust temperature, which may suggest that warmer starbursts are more compact and have higher cosmic-ray energy densities, leading to more efficient OH + ion production. This is in agreement with a picture in which these high-redshift galaxies are “scaled-up” versions of the most intense nearby starbursts. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT This paper presents a survey of Mg ii absorbing gas in the vicinity of 380 random galaxies, using 156 background quasi-stellar objects (QSOs) as absorption-line probes. The sample comprises 211 isolated (73 quiescent and 138 star-forming galaxies) and 43 non-isolated galaxies with sensitive constraints for both Mg ii absorption and H α emission. The projected distances span a range from d = 9 to 497 kpc, redshifts of the galaxies range from z = 0.10 to 0.48, and rest-frame absolute B-band magnitudes range from MB = −16.7 to −22.8. Our analysis shows that the rest-frame equivalent width of Mg ii, Wr(2796), depends on halo radius (Rh), B-band luminosity(LB), and stellar mass (Mstar) of the host galaxies, and declines steeply with increasing d for isolated, star-forming galaxies. At the same time, Wr(2796) exhibits no clear trend for either isolated, quiescent galaxies or non-isolated galaxies. In addition, the covering fraction of Mg ii absorbing gas 〈κ〉 is high with 〈κ〉 ≳ 60 per cent at <40 kpc for isolated galaxies and declines rapidly to 〈κ〉 ≈ 0 at d ≳ 100 kpc. Within the gaseous radius, the incidence of Mg ii gas depends sensitively on both Mstar and the specific star formation rate inferred from H α. Different from what is known for massive quiescent haloes, the observed velocity dispersion of Mg ii absorbing gas around star-forming galaxies is consistent with expectations from virial motion, which constrains individual clump mass to $m_{\rm cl} \gtrsim 10^5 \, \rm M_\odot$ and cool gas accretion rate of $\sim 0.7\!-\!2 \, \mathrm{ M}_\odot \, \rm yr^{-1}$. Finally, we find no strong azimuthal dependence of Mg ii absorption for either star-forming or quiescent galaxies. Our results demonstrate that multiple parameters affect the properties of gaseous haloes around galaxies and highlight the need of a homogeneous, absorption-blind sample for establishing a holistic description of chemically enriched gas in the circumgalactic space. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT This paper presents a detailed analysis of two giant Lyman-alpha (Ly α) arcs detected near galaxies at z = 3.038 and z = 3.754 lensed by the massive cluster MACS 1206−0847 (z = 0.44). The Ly α nebulae revealed in deep MUSE observations exhibit a double-peaked profile with a dominant red peak, indicating expansion/outflowing motions. One of the arcs stretches over 1 arcmin around the cluster Einstein radius, resolving the velocity field of the line-emitting gas on kpc scales around three star-forming galaxies of 0.3–$1.6\, L_*$ at z = 3.038. The second arc spans 15 arcsec in size, roughly centred around two low-mass Ly α emitters of $\approx 0.03\, L_*$ at z = 3.754. All three galaxies in the z = 3.038 group exhibit prominent damped Ly α absorption (DLA) and several metal absorption lines, in addition to nebular emission lines such as $\hbox{He ii}$$\lambda \, 1640$ and C iii]λλ1906, 1908. Extended Ly α emission appears to emerge from star-forming regions with suppressed surface brightness at the centre of each galaxy. Significant spatial variations in the Ly α line profile are observed which, when unaccounted for in the integrated line, leads to biased constraints for the underlying gas kinematics. The observed spatial variations indicate the presence of a steep velocity gradient in a continuous flow of high column density gas from star-forming regions into a low-density halo environment. A detailed inspection of available galaxy spectra shows no evidence of AGN activity in the galaxies, and the observed Ly α signals are primarily explained by resonant scattering. The study presented in this paper shows that spatially resolved imaging spectroscopy provides the most detailed insights yet into the kinematics of galactic superwinds associated with star-forming galaxies. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We present a systematic investigation of physical conditions and elemental abundances in four optically thick Lyman-limit systems (LLSs) at z = 0.36–0.6 discovered within the cosmic ultraviolet baryon survey (CUBS). Because intervening LLSs at z < 1 suppress far-UV (ultraviolet) light from background QSOs, an unbiased search of these absorbers requires a near-UV-selected QSO sample, as achieved by CUBS. CUBS LLSs exhibit multicomponent kinematic structure and a complex mix of multiphase gas, with associated metal transitions from multiple ionization states such as C ii, C iii, N iii, Mg ii, Si ii, Si iii, O ii, O iii, O vi, and Fe ii absorption that span several hundred km s−1 in line-of-sight velocity. Specifically, higher column density components (log N(H i)/cm−2≳ 16) in all four absorbers comprise dynamically cool gas with $\langle T \rangle =(2\pm 1) \times 10^4\,$K and modest non-thermal broadening of $\langle b_\mathrm{nt} \rangle =5\pm 3\,$km s−1. The high quality of the QSO absorption spectra allows us to infer the physical conditions of the gas, using a detailed ionization modelling that takes into account the resolved component structures of H i and metal transitions. The range of inferred gas densities indicates that these absorbers consist of spatially compact clouds with a median line-of-sight thickness of $160^{+140}_{-50}$ pc. While obtaining robust metallicity constraints for the low density, highly ionized phase remains challenging due to the uncertain $N\mathrm{(H\, {\small I})}$, we demonstrate that the cool-phase gas in LLSs has a median metallicity of $\mathrm{[\alpha /H]_{1/2}}=-0.7^{+0.1}_{-0.2}$, with a 16–84 percentile range of [α/H] = (−1.3, −0.1). Furthermore, the wide range of inferred elemental abundance ratios ([C/α], [N/α], and [Fe/α]) indicate a diversity of chemical enrichment histories. Combining the absorption data with deep galaxy survey data characterizing the galaxy environment of these absorbers, we discuss the physical connection between star-forming regions in galaxies and diffuse gas associated with optically thick absorption systems in the z < 1 circumgalactic medium. 
    more » « less