107 research outputs found

    The Mean Ultraviolet Spectrum of a Representative Sample of Faint z~3 Lyman Alpha Emitters

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    We discuss the rest-frame ultraviolet emission line spectra of a large (~100) sample of low luminosity redshift z~3.1 Lyman alpha emitters (LAEs) drawn from a Subaru imaging survey in the SSA22 survey field. Our earlier work based on smaller samples indicated that such sources have high [OIII]/[OII] line ratios possibly arising from a hard ionising spectrum that may be typical of similar sources in the reionisation era. With optical spectra secured from VLT/VIMOS, we re-examine the nature of the ionising radiation in a larger sample using the strength of the high ionisation diagnostic emission lines of CIII]1909, CIV1549, HeII1640, and OIII]1661,1666 in various stacked subsets. Our analysis confirms earlier suggestions of a correlation between the strength of Ly-alpha and CIII] emission and we find similar trends with broad band UV luminosity and rest-frame UV colour. Using various diagnostic line ratios and our stellar photoionisation models, we determine both the gas phase metallicity and hardness of the ionisation spectrum characterised by xi_ion - the number of Lyman continuum photons per UV luminosity. We confirm our earlier suggestion that xi_ion is significantly larger for LAEs than for continuum-selected Lyman break galaxies, particularly for those LAEs with the faintest UV luminosities. We briefly discuss the implications for cosmic reionisation if the metal-poor intensely star-forming systems studied here are representative examples of those at much higher redshift.Comment: 15 pages, 9 figures. Accepted for publication in MNRA

    A spectroscopic search for AGN activity in the reionization era

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    The ubiquity of Lyman alpha (Lyα\alpha) emission in a sample of four bright [O III]-strong star-forming galaxies with redshifts above 7 has led to the suggestion that such luminous sources represent a distinct population compared to their fainter, more numerous, counterparts. The presence of Lyα\alpha emission within the reionization era could indicate that these sources created early ionized bubbles due to their unusually strong radiation, possibly due to the presence of active galactic nuclei. To test this hypothesis we have secured long integration spectra with XSHOOTER on the VLT for three z≃z\simeq7 sources selected to have similar luminosities and prominent excess fluxes in the IRAC 3.6 or 4.5ÎŒ\mum band, usually attributed to strong [O III] emission. We secured additional spectroscopy for one of these galaxies at zz=7.15 using MOSFIRE at the Keck telescope. For this, the most well-studied source in our sample with the strongest IRAC excess, we detect prominent nebular emission from He II and NV indicative of a non-thermal source. For the other two sources at zz=6.81 and zz=6.85, for which no previous optical/near infrared spectroscopy was initially available, Lyα\alpha is seen in one and CIII] emission in the other. Although a modest sample, our results further support the hypothesis that the phenomenon of intense [O III] emission is associated preferentially with sources lying in early ionized bubbles. However, even though one of our sources at zz=7.15 clearly indicates the presence of non-thermal radiation, such ionized bubbles may not uniquely arise in this manner. We discuss the unique advantages of extending such challenging diagnostic studies with JWST.Comment: 11 pages, 7 figures, submitted to Ap