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  1. Abstract Measuring the density of the intergalactic medium using quasar sight lines in the epoch of reionization is challenging due to the saturation of Ly α absorption. Near a luminous quasar, however, the enhanced radiation creates a proximity zone observable in the quasar spectra where the Ly α absorption is not saturated. In this study, we use 10 high-resolution ( R ≳ 10,000) z ∼ 6 quasar spectra from the extended XQR-30 sample to measure the density field in the quasar proximity zones. We find a variety of environments within 3 pMpc distance from the quasars. We compare the observed density cumulative distribution function (CDF) with models from the Cosmic Reionization on Computers simulation and find a good agreement between 1.5 and 3 pMpc from the quasar. This region is far away from the quasar hosts and hence approaching the mean density of the universe, which allows us to use the CDF to set constraints on the cosmological parameter σ 8 = 0.6 ± 0.3. The uncertainty is mainly due to the limited number of high-quality quasar sight lines currently available. Utilizing the more than 200 known quasars at z ≳ 6, this method will allow us to tighten themore »constraint on σ 8 to the percent level in the future. In the region closer to the quasar within 1.5 pMpc, we find that the density is higher than predicted in the simulation by 1.23 ± 0.17, suggesting that the typical host dark matter halo mass of a bright quasar ( M 1450 < −26.5) at z ∼ 6 is log 10 ( M h / M ⊙ ) = 12.5 − 0.7 + 0.4 .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  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