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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. Abstract Distortions of the observed cosmic microwave background provide a direct measurement of the microwave background temperature at redshifts from 0 to 1 (refs.  1,2 ). Some additional background temperature estimates exist at redshifts from 1.8 to 3.3 based on molecular and atomic line-excitation temperatures in quasar absorption-line systems, but are model dependent 3 . No deviations from the expected (1 +  z ) scaling behaviour of the microwave background temperature have been seen 4 , but the measurements have not extended deeply into the matter-dominated era of the Universe at redshifts z  > 3.3. Here we report observations of submillimetre line absorption from the water molecule against the cosmic microwave background at z  = 6.34 in a massive starburst galaxy, corresponding to a lookback time of 12.8 billion years (ref.  5 ). Radiative pumping of the upper level of the ground-state ortho-H 2 O(1 10 –1 01 ) line due to starburst activity in the dusty galaxy HFLS3 results in a cooling to below the redshifted microwave background temperature, after the transition is initially excited by the microwave background. This implies a microwave background temperature of 16.4–30.2 K (1 σ range) at z  = 6.34, which is consistent with a background temperature increase withmore »redshift as expected from the standard ΛCDM cosmology 4 .« less
  3. Abstract We report new Northern Extended Millimeter Array observations of the [C ii ] 158 μ m , [N ii ] 205 μ m , and [O i ] 146 μ m atomic fine structure lines (FSLs) and dust continuum emission of J1148+5251, a z = 6.42 quasar, which probe the physical properties of its interstellar medium (ISM). The radially averaged [C ii ] 158 μ m and dust continuum emission have similar extensions (up to θ = 2.51 − 0.25 + 0.46 arcsec , corresponding to r = 9.8 − 2.1 + 3.3 kpc , accounting for beam convolution), confirming that J1148+5251 is the quasar with the largest [C ii ] 158 μ m -emitting reservoir known at these epochs. Moreover, if the [C ii ] 158 μ m emission is examined only along its NE–SW axis, a significant excess (>5.8 σ ) of [C ii ] 158 μ m emission (with respect to the dust) is detected. The new wide-bandwidth observations enable us to accurately constrain the continuum emission, and do not statistically require the presence of broad [C ii ] 158 μ m line wings that were reported in previous studies. We also report the first detectionmore »of the [O i ] 146 μ m and (tentatively) [N ii ] 205 μ m emission lines in J1148+5251. Using FSL ratios of the [C ii ] 158 μ m , [N ii ] 205 μ m , [O i ] 146 μ m , and previously measured [C i ] 369 μ m emission lines, we show that J1148+5251 has similar ISM conditions compared to lower-redshift (ultra)luminous infrared galaxies. CLOUDY modeling of the FSL ratios excludes X-ray-dominated regions and favors photodissociation regions as the origin of the FSL emission. We find that a high radiation field (10 3.5–4.5 G 0 ), a high gas density ( n ≃ 10 3.5–4.5 cm −3 ), and an H i column density of 10 23 cm −2 reproduce the observed FSL ratios well.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  4. Abstract We present a high-resolution study of the cold molecular gas as traced by CO(1-0) in the unlensed z ∼ 3.4 submillimeter galaxy SMM J13120+4242, using multiconfiguration observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). The gas reservoir, imaged on 0.″39 (∼3 kpc) scales, is resolved into two components separated by ∼11 kpc with a total extent of 16 ± 3 kpc. Despite the large spatial extent of the reservoir, the observations show a CO(1-0) FWHM linewidth of only 267 ± 64 km s −1 . We derive a revised line luminosity of L CO ( 1 − 0 ) ′ = (10 ± 3) × 10 10 K km s −1 pc 2 and a molecular gas mass of M gas = (13 ± 3)× 10 10 ( α CO /1) M ⊙ . Despite the presence of a velocity gradient (consistent with previous resolved CO(6-5) imaging), the CO(1-0) imaging shows evidence for significant turbulent motions that are preventing the gas from fully settling into a disk. The system likely represents a merger in an advanced stage. Although the dynamical mass is highly uncertain, we use it to place an upper limit on the CO-to-H 2 massmore »conversion factor α CO of 1.4. We revisit the SED fitting, finding that this galaxy lies on the very massive end of the main sequence at z = 3.4. Based on the low gas fraction, short gas depletion time, and evidence for a central AGN, we propose that SMM J13120 is in a rapid transitional phase between a merger-driven starburst and an unobscured quasar. The case of SMM J13120 highlights how mergers may drive important physical changes in galaxies without pushing them off the main sequence.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  5. Abstract

    The center of the nearby galaxy NGC 253 hosts a population of more than a dozen super star clusters (SSCs) that are still in the process of forming. The majority of the star formation of the burst is concentrated in these SSCs, and the starburst is powering a multiphase outflow from the galaxy. In this work, we measure the 350 GHz dust continuum emission toward the center of NGC 253 at 47 mas (0.8 pc) resolution using data from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. We report the detection of 350 GHz (dust) continuum emission in the outflow for the first time, associated with the prominent South-West streamer. In this feature, the dust emission has a width of ≈8 pc, is located at the outer edge of the CO emission, and corresponds to a molecular gas mass of ∼(8–17)×106M. In the starburst nucleus, we measure the resolved radial profiles, sizes, and molecular gas masses of the SSCs. Compared to previous work at the somewhat lower spatial resolution, the SSCs here break apart into smaller substructures with radii 0.4–0.7 pc. In projection, the SSCs, dust, and dense molecular gas appear to be arranged as a thin, almost linear, structure roughly 155more »pc in length. The morphology and kinematics of this structure can be well explained as gas followingx2orbits at the center of a barred potential. We constrain the morpho-kinematic arrangement of the SSCs themselves, finding that an elliptical, angular-momentum-conserving ring is a good description of both the morphology and kinematics of the SSCs.

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  6. We present Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array S - (2–4 GHz), C - (4–8 GHz), and X -band (8–12 GHz) continuum observations toward seven radio-loud quasars at z  > 5. This sample has previously been found to exhibit spectral peaks at observed-frame frequencies above ∼1 GHz. We also present upgraded Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (uGMRT) band-2 (200 MHz), band-3 (400 MHz), and band-4 (650 MHz) radio continuum observations toward eight radio-loud quasars at z  > 5, selected from our previous GMRT survey, in order to sample their low-frequency synchrotron emission. Combined with archival radio continuum observations, all ten targets show evidence for spectral turnover. The turnover frequencies are ∼1–50 GHz in the rest frame, making these targets gigahertz-peaked-spectrum or high-frequency-peaker candidates. For the nine well-constrained targets with observations on both sides of the spectral turnover, we fit the entire radio spectrum with absorption models associated with synchrotron self-absorption and free-free absorption (FFA). Our results show that FFA in an external inhomogeneous medium can accurately describe the observed spectra for all nine targets, which may indicate an FFA origin for the radio spectral turnover in our sample. As for the complex spectrum of J114657.79+403708.6 at z  = 5.00 with two spectral peaks, itmore »may be caused by multiple components (i.e., core-jet) and FFA by the high-density medium in the nuclear region. However, we cannot rule out the spectral turnover origin of variability. Based on our radio spectral modeling, we calculate the radio loudness R 2500 Å for our sample, which ranges from 12 −1 +1 to 674 −51 +61 .« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  7. Abstract We present 0.″035 resolution (∼200 pc) imaging of the 158 μ m [C ii ] line and the underlying dust continuum of the z = 6.9 quasar J234833.34–305410.0. The 18 hour Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array observations reveal extremely compact emission (diameter ∼1 kpc) that is consistent with a simple, almost face-on, rotation–supported disk with a significant velocity dispersion of ∼160 km s −1 . The gas mass in just the central 200 pc is ∼4 × 10 9 M ⊙ , about a factor of two higher than that of the central supermassive black hole. Consequently we do not resolve the black hole’s sphere of influence, and find no kinematic signature of the central supermassive black hole. Kinematic modeling of the [C ii ] line shows that the dynamical mass at large radii is consistent with the gas mass, leaving little room for a significant mass contribution by stars and/or dark matter. The Toomre–Q parameter is less than unity throughout the disk, and thus is conducive to star formation, consistent with the high-infrared luminosity of the system. The dust in the central region is optically thick, at a temperature >132 K. Using standard scaling relations of dust heating bymore »star formation, this implies an unprecedented high star formation rate density of >10 4 M ⊙ yr −1 kpc −2 . Such a high number can still be explained with the Eddington limit for star formation under certain assumptions, but could also imply that the central supermassive black hole contributes to the heating of the dust in the central 200 pc.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  8. Abstract We report deep Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) observations of the optically ultraluminous and radio-quiet quasar SDSS J010013.02+280225.8 (hereafter J0100+2802) at redshift z = 6.3. We detected the radio continuum emission at 1.5 GHz, 6 GHz, and 10 GHz. This leads to a radio power-law spectral index of α = −0.52 ± 0.18 ( S ∝ ν α ). The radio source is unresolved in all VLA bands with an upper limit to the size of 0.″2 (i.e., ∼1.1 kpc) at 10 GHz. We find variability in the flux density (increase by ∼33%) and the spectral index (steepened) between observations in 2016 and 2017. We also find that the VLA 1.5 GHz flux density observed in the same year is 1.5 times that detected with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) in 2016 at the same frequency. This difference suggests that half of the radio emission from J0100+2802 comes from a compact core within 40 pc, and the rest comes from the surrounding few-kiloparsec area, which is diffuse and resolved out in the VLBA observations. The diffuse emission is 4 times brighter than what would be expected if driven by star formation. We conclude that the centralmore »active galactic nucleus is the dominant power engine of the radio emission in J0100+2802.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  9. ABSTRACT

    The James Webb Space Telescope will have the power to characterize high-redshift quasars at z ≥ 6 with an unprecedented depth and spatial resolution. While the brightest quasars at such redshift (i.e. with bolometric luminosity $L_{\rm bol}\geqslant 10^{46}\, \rm erg/s$) provide us with key information on the most extreme objects in the Universe, measuring the black hole (BH) mass and Eddington ratios of fainter quasars with $L_{\rm bol}= 10^{45}-10^{46}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$ opens a path to understand the build-up of more normal BHs at z ≥ 6. In this paper, we show that the Illustris, TNG100, TNG300, Horizon-AGN, EAGLE, and SIMBA large-scale cosmological simulations do not agree on whether BHs at z ≥ 4 are overmassive or undermassive at fixed galaxy stellar mass with respect to the MBH − M⋆ scaling relation at z = 0 (BH mass offsets). Our conclusions are unchanged when using the local scaling relation produced by each simulation or empirical relations. We find that the BH mass offsets of the simulated faint quasar population at z ≥ 4, unlike those of bright quasars, represent the BH mass offsets of the entire BH population, for all the simulations. Thus, a population of faint quasars withmore »$L_{\rm bol}= 10^{45}-10^{46}\, \rm erg\,s^{ -1}$ observed by JWST can provide key constraints on the assembly of BHs at high redshift. Moreover, this will help constraining the high-redshift regime of cosmological simulations, including BH seeding, early growth, and co-evolution with the host galaxies. Our results also motivate the need for simulations of larger cosmological volumes down to z ∼ 6, with the same diversity of subgrid physics, in order to gain statistics on the most extreme objects at high redshift.

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