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Discovery of a compact gas-rich damped Lyman-alpha galaxy at z = 2.2: evidence of a starburst driven outflow
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Astronomy. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC).
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2012 (English)In: Astronomy and Astrophysics, ISSN 0004-6361, E-ISSN 1432-0746, Vol. 540, A63- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We present the detection of Ly alpha, [OIII], and H alpha emission associated with an extremely strong damped Lyman-alpha (DLA) system (N(HI) = 10(22.10) cm(-2)) at z = 2.207 towards the quasar SDSS J113520.39-001053.56. This is the largest Hi column density ever measured along a quasi-stellar object (QSO) line of sight, though typical of those often found in DLAs associated to gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). This absorption system can also be classified as an ultra-strong Mg II system with W-r(lambda 2796) similar or equal to 3.6 angstrom. The mean metallicity of the gas ([Zn/H] = -1.1) and dust depletion factors ([Zn/Fe] = 0.72, [Zn/Cr] = 0.49) are consistent with (and only marginally larger than) the mean values found in the general QSO-DLA population. The [OIII]-H alpha emitting region has a very small impact parameter with respect to the QSO line of sight, b approximate to 0.1 '' (0.9 kpc proper distance), and is unresolved. From the H alpha line, we measure a significant star formation rate (SFR) approximate to 25 M-circle dot yr(-1) (uncorrected for dust). The shape of the Ly alpha line is double-peaked, which is the signature of a resonant scattering of Ly alpha photons, and the Ly alpha emission is spatially extended. More strikingly, the blue and red Ly alpha peaks arise from distinct regions extended over a few kpc on either side of the star-forming region. We propose that this is the consequence of a Ly alpha transfer in outflowing gas. The presence of starburst-driven outflows is also in agreement with the high SFR together with the small size and low mass of the galaxy (M-vir similar to 10(10) M-circle dot). By placing constraints on the stellar UV continuum luminosity of the galaxy, we estimate an age of at most a few 10(7) yr, again consistent with a recent starburst scenario. We interpret these data as the observation of a young, gas-rich, compact starburst galaxy, from which material is expelled through collimated winds powered by the vigorous star formation activity. We substantiate this picture by modelling the radiative transfer of Ly alpha photons in the galactic counterpart. Though our model (a spherical galaxy with bipolar outflowing jets) is a simplistic representation of the true gas distribution and velocity field, the agreement between the observed and simulated properties is particularly good (spectral shape and width of the Lyman-alpha emission, spatial configuration, escape fraction as well as absorption kinematics, HI column density, and dust reddening). Finally, we propose that selecting DLAs with very high Hi column densities may be an efficient way of detecting star-forming galaxies at small impact parameters from the background QSO lines of sight.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 540, A63- p.
Keyword [en]
galaxies: ISM, galaxies: high-redshift, galaxies: star formation, quasars: individual: SDSS J113520.39-001053.56, quasars: absorption lines
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-80740DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201118691ISI: 000303315400077OAI: diva2:558423


Available from: 2012-10-03 Created: 2012-09-27 Last updated: 2012-10-03Bibliographically approved

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Department of AstronomyThe Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC)
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