Discovery of the galaxy proximity effect and implications for measurements of the ionizing background radiation at low redshifts.
PASCARELLE S.M., LANZETTA K.M., CHEN H.-W. and WEBB J.K.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present an analysis of galaxy and quasi-stellar object (QSO) absorption line pairs toward 24 QSOs at redshifts between z~0.2 and 1 in an effort to establish the relationship between galaxies and absorption lines in physical proximity to QSOs. We demonstrate the existence of a galaxy proximity effect, in that galaxies in the vicinities of QSOs do not show the same incidence and extent of gaseous envelopes as galaxies far from QSOs. We show that the galaxy proximity effect exists to galaxy-QSO velocity separations of ≃3000 km.s–1, much larger than the size of a typical cluster (≃1000 km.s–1); i.e., it is more comparable to the scale of the sphere of influence of QSO ionizing radiation rather than the scale of galaxy-QSO clustering. This indicates that the QSO ionizing radiation rather than some dynamical effect from the cluster environment is responsible for the galaxy proximity effect. We combine previous findings that (1) many or most Lyα absorption lines arise in extended galaxy envelopes, and (2) galaxies cluster around QSOs to show that the magnitude of the Lyα forest proximity effect is underestimated. Consequently, determinations of the UV ionizing background intensity using the proximity effect are likely overestimated. We use the galaxy-QSO cross-correlation function measured from our data to estimate the magnitude of this overestimate and find that it could be as high as a factor of 20 at z≲1. This can have strong implications for models of the origin and evolution of the ionizing background and may indicate that QSOs produce sufficient ionizing flux at all redshifts to account for the entire background radiation field.