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2018MNRAS.476.1356F - Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 476, 1356-1370 (2018)

Agnostic stacking of intergalactic doublet absorption: measuring the Ne VIII population.


Abstract (from CDS):

We present a blind search for doublet intergalactic metal absorption with a method dubbed `agnostic stacking'. Using a forward-modelling framework, we combine this with direct detections in the literature to measure the overall metal population. We apply this novel approach to the search for Ne VIII absorption in a set of 26 high-quality COS spectra. We probe to an unprecedented low limit of log N>12.3 at 0.47<=z <=1.34 over a path-length [?]z = 7.36. This method selects apparent absorption without requiring knowledge of its source. Stacking this mixed population dilutes doublet features in composite spectra in a deterministic manner, allowing us to measure the proportion corresponding to Ne VIII absorption. We stack potential Ne VIII absorption in two regimes: absorption too weak to be significant in direct line studies (12.3 < log N < 13.7), and strong absorbers (log N > 13.7). We do not detect Ne VIII absorption in either regime. Combining our measurements with direct detections, we find that the Ne VIII population is reproduced with a power-law column density distribution function with slope β = -1.86 ^{+0.18 }_{ -0.26} and normalization log f_{13.7} = -13.99 ^{+0.20 }_{ -0.23}, leading to an incidence rate of strong Ne VIII absorbers dn/dz =1.38 ^{+0.97 }_{ -0.82}. We infer a cosmic mass density for Ne VIII gas with 12.3 < log N < 15.0 of Ω _{{{Ne {VIII}}}} = 2.2 ^{+1.6 }{ -1.2} x 10^{-8}, a value significantly lower that than predicted by recent simulations. We translate this density into an estimate of the baryon density Ωb ≃ 1.8 x 10–3, constituting 4 per cent of the total baryonic mass.

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Journal keyword(s): intergalactic medium - quasars: absorption lines

Simbad objects: 22

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