Astrophys. J., 833, 283-283 (2016/December-3)
The cosmic evolution of the metallicity distribution of ionized gas traced by Lyman limit systems.
LEHNER N., O'MEARA J.M., HOWK J.C., PROCHASKA J.X. and FUMAGALLI M.
Abstract (from CDS):
We present the first results from our KODIAQ Z survey aimed at determining the metallicity distribution and physical properties of the z≳2 partial and full Lyman limit systems (pLLSs and LLSs; 16.2≤logNHI<19), which are probed of the interface regions between the intergalactic medium (IGM) and galaxies. We study 31 H I-selected pLLSs and LLSs at 2.3<z<3.3 observed with Keck/HIRES in absorption against background QSOs. We compare the column densities of metal ions to H I and use photoionization models to assess the metallicity. The metallicity distribution of the pLLSs/LLSs at 2.3<z<3.3 is consistent with a unimodal distribution peaking at [X/H]~-2. Te metallicity distribution of these absorbers therefore evolves markedly with z since at z≲1 it is bimodal with peaks at [X/H]~-1.8 and -0.3. There is a substantial fraction (25%-41%) of pLLSs/LLSs with metallicities well below those of damped Lyα absorbers (DLAs) at any studied z from z≲1 to z∼2-4, implying reservoirs of metal-poor, cool, dense gas in the IGM/galaxy interface at all z. However, the gas probed by pLLSs and LLSs is rarely pristine, with a fraction of 3%-18% for pLLSs/LLSs with [X/H]≤-3. We find C/α enhancement in several pLLSs and LLSs in the metallicity range -2≲[X/H]≲-0.5, where C/α is 2-5 times larger than observed in Galactic metal-poor stars or high-redshift DLAs at similar metallicities. This is likely caused by preferential ejection of carbon from metal-poor galaxies into their surroundings.
© 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
galaxies: abundances - galaxies: halos - galaxies: high-redshift - quasars: absorption lines - quasars: absorption lines
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<Available at CDS (J/ApJ/833/283): table1.dat table2.dat table6.dat>
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