Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 616A, 30-30 (2018/8-1)
Accurately predicting the escape fraction of ionizing photons using rest-frame ultraviolet absorption lines.
CHISHOLM J., GAZAGNES S., SCHAERER D., VERHAMME A., RIGBY J.R., BAYLISS M., SHARON K., GLADDERS M. and DAHLE H.
Abstract (from CDS):
The fraction of ionizing photons that escape high-redshift galaxies sensitively determines whether galaxies reionized the early Universe. However, this escape fraction cannot be measured from high-redshift galaxies because the opacity of the intergalactic medium is large at high redshifts. Without methods to measure the escape fraction of high-redshift galaxies indirectly, it is unlikely that we will know what reionized the Universe. Here, we analyze the far-ultraviolet (UV) HI (Lyman series) and low-ionization metal absorption lines of nine low-redshift, confirmed Lyman continuum emitting galaxies. We use the HI covering fractions, column densities, and dust attenuations measured in a companion paper to predict the escape fraction of ionizing photons. We find good agreement between the predicted and observed Lyman continuum escape fractions (within 1.4σ) using both the HI andISM absorption lines. The ionizing photons escape through holes in the HI, but we show that dust attenuation reduces the fraction of photons that escape galaxies. This means that the average high-redshift galaxy likely emits more ionizing photons than low-redshift galaxies. Two other indirect methods accurately predict the escape fractions: the Lyα escape fraction and the optical [OIII]/[OII] flux ratio. We use these indirect methods to predict the escape fraction of a sample of 21 galaxies with rest-frame UV spectra but without Lyman continuum observations. Many of these galaxies have low escape fractions (fesc≤1%), but 11 have escape fractions >1%. Future studies will use these methods to measure the escape fractions of high-redshift galaxies, enabling upcoming telescopes to determine whether star-forming galaxies reionized the early Universe.
© ESO 2018
dark ages, reionization, first stars - galaxies: irregular - galaxies: ISM - galaxies: starburst
View the references in ADS
To bookmark this query, right click on this link: simbad:2018A&A...616A..30C and select 'bookmark this link' or equivalent in the popup menu