Precious metals in SDSS quasar spectra. I. Tracking the evolution of strong, 1.5 < z < 4.5 C IV absorbers with thousands of systems.
COOKSEY K.L., KAO M.M., SIMCOE R.A., O'MEARA J.M. and PROCHASKA J.X.
Abstract (from CDS):
We have vastly increased the C IV statistics at intermediate redshift by surveying the thousands of quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Data-Release 7. We visually verified over 16,000 C IV systems with 1.46 < z < 4.55–a sample size that renders Poisson error negligible. Detailed Monte Carlo simulations show that we are approximately 50% complete down to rest equivalent widths Wr~ 0.6 Å. We analyzed the sample as a whole and in 10 small redshift bins with approximately 1500 doublets each. The equivalent width frequency distributions f(Wr) were well modeled by an exponential, with little evolution in shape. In contrast with previous studies that modeled the frequency distribution as a single power law, the fitted exponential gives a finite mass density for the C IV ions. The comoving line density dNCIV/dX evolved smoothly with redshift, increasing by a factor of 2.37 ±0.09 from z = 4.55-1.96, then plateauing at dNCIV/dX ≈ 0.34 for z = 1.96-1.46. Comparing our SDSS sample with z < 1 (ultraviolet) and z > 5 (infrared) surveys, we see an approximately 10-fold increase in dNCIV/dX over z ~ 6 ⟶ 0, for Wr ≥ 0.6 Å. This suggests a monotonic and significant increase in the enrichment of gas outside galaxies over the 12 Gyr lifetime of the universe.