Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic origins spectrograph observations of the quasar Q0302-003: probing the He II reionization epoch and QSo proximity effects.
SYPHERS D. and SHULL J.M.
Abstract (from CDS):
Q0302-003 (z = 3.2860±0.0005) was the first quasar discovered that showed a He II Gunn-Peterson trough, a sign of incomplete helium reionization at z ≳ 2.9. We present its Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic Origins Spectrograph far-UV medium-resolution spectrum, which resolves many spectral features for the first time, allowing study of the quasar itself, the intergalactic medium, and quasar proximity effects. Q0302-003 has a harder intrinsic extreme-UV spectral index than previously claimed, as determined from both a direct fit to the spectrum (yielding αν~ -0.8) and the helium-to-hydrogen ion ratio in the quasar's line-of-sight proximity zone. Intergalactic absorption along this sightline shows that the helium Gunn-Peterson trough is largely black in the range 2.87 < z < 3.20, apart from ionization due to local sources, indicating that helium reionization has not completed at these redshifts. However, we tentatively report a detection of nonzero flux in the high-redshift trough when looking at low-density regions, but zero flux in higher-density regions. This constrains the He II fraction to be about 1% in the low-density intergalactic medium (IGM) and possibly a factor of a few higher in the IGM as a whole, suggesting helium reionization has progressed substantially by z ∼ 3.1. The Gunn-Peterson trough recovers to a He II Lyα forest at z < 2.87. We confirm a transmission feature due to the ionization zone around a z = 3.05 quasar just off the sightline, and resolve the feature for the first time. We discover a similar such feature possibly caused by a luminous z = 3.23 quasar further from the sightline, which suggests that this quasar has been luminous for >34 Myr.
galaxies: active - intergalactic medium - quasars: absorption lines - quasars: individual: Q0302-003 - ultraviolet: galaxies