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Creators/Authors contains: "Farina, Emanuele Paolo"

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  1. Abstract

    Cosmic reionization was the last major phase transition of hydrogen from neutral to highly ionized in the intergalactic medium (IGM). Current observations show that the IGM is significantly neutral atz> 7 and largely ionized byz∼ 5.5. However, most methods to measure the IGM neutral fraction are highly model dependent and are limited to when the volume-averaged neutral fraction of the IGM is either relatively low (x¯HI103) or close to unity (x¯HI1). In particular, the neutral fraction evolution of the IGM at the critical redshift range ofz= 6–7 is poorly constrained. We present new constraints onx¯HIatz∼ 5.1–6.8 by analyzing deep optical spectra of 53 quasars at 5.73 <z< 7.09. We derive model-independent upper limits on the neutral hydrogen fraction based on the fraction of “dark” pixels identified in the Lyαand Lyβforests, without any assumptions on the IGM model or the intrinsic shape of the quasar continuum. They are the first model-independent constraints on the IGM neutral hydrogen fraction atz∼ 6.2–6.8 using quasar absorption measurements. Our results give upper limits ofx¯more »mathvariant='normal'>HI(z=6.3)<0.79±0.04(1σ),x¯HI(z=6.5)<0.87±0.03(1σ), andx¯HI(z=6.7)<0.940.09+0.06(1σ). The dark pixel fractions atz> 6.1 are consistent with the redshift evolution of the neutral fraction of the IGM derived from Planck 2018.

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  2. We investigate the molecular gas content of z  ∼ 6 quasar host galaxies using the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique Northern Extended Millimeter Array. We targeted the 3 mm dust continuum, and the line emission from CO(6–5), CO(7–6), and [C  I ] 2−1 in ten infrared–luminous quasars that have been previously studied in their 1 mm dust continuum and [C  II ] line emission. We detected CO(7–6) at various degrees of significance in all the targeted sources, thus doubling the number of such detections in z  ∼ 6 quasars. The 3 mm to 1 mm flux density ratios are consistent with a modified black body spectrum with a dust temperature T dust  ∼ 47 K and an optical depth τ ν  = 0.2 at the [C  II ] frequency. Our study provides us with four independent ways to estimate the molecular gas mass, M H2 , in the targeted quasars. This allows us to set constraints on various parameters used in the derivation of molecular gas mass estimates, such as the mass per luminosity ratios α CO and α [CII] , the gas-to-dust mass ratio δ g/d , and the carbon abundance [C]/H 2 . Leveraging either on the dust, CO, [C  I ], ormore »[C  II ] emission yields mass estimates of the entire sample in the range M H2  ∼ 10 10 –10 11 M ⊙ . We compared the observed luminosities of dust, [C  II ], [C  I ], and CO(7–6) with predictions from photo-dissociation and X-ray dominated regions. We find that the former provide better model fits to our data, assuming that the bulk of the emission arises from dense ( n H  > 10 4 cm −3 ) clouds with a column density N H  ∼ 10 23 cm −2 , exposed to a radiation field with an intensity of G 0  ∼ 10 3 (in Habing units). Our analysis reiterates the presence of massive reservoirs of molecular gas fueling star formation and nuclear accretion in z  ∼ 6 quasar host galaxies. It also highlights the power of combined 3 mm and 1 mm observations for quantitative studies of the dense gas content in massive galaxies at cosmic dawn.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023