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Galaxies as Fluctuations in the Ionizing Background Radiation at Low Redshift

By Suzanne M. Linder, Jonathan I. Davies, Maarten Baes, Rhodri Evans, Sarah Roberts, Sabina Sabatini and Rodney Smith


Some Lyman continuum photons are likely to escape from most galaxies, and these can play an important role in ionizing gas around and between galaxies, including gas that gives rise to Lyman alpha absorption. Thus the gas surrounding galaxies and in the intergalactic medium will be exposed to varying amounts of ionizing radiation depending upon the distances, orientations, and luminosities of any nearby galaxies. The ionizing background can be recalculated at any point within a simulation by adding the flux from the galaxies to a uniform quasar contribution. Normal galaxies are found to almost always make some contribution to the ionizing background radiation at redshift zero, as seen by absorbers and at random points in space. Assuming that ∼ 2 percent of ionizing photons escape from a galaxy like the Milky Way, we find that normal galaxies make a contribution of at least 40 percent of the assumed quasar background. Lyman alpha absorbers with a wide range of neutral column densities are found to be exposed to a wide range of ionization rates, although the distribution of photoionization rates for absorbers is found to be strongly peaked. On average, less highly ionized absorbers are found to arise farther from luminous galaxies, while local fluctuations in the ionization rate are seen around galaxies having a wide range of properties. Key words: diffuse radiation – quasars: absorption lines – intergalactic medium – galaxies: structure.

Year: 2003
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