Evidence for a Hard Ionizing Spectrum from a z=6.11 Stellar Population
Kollmeier, J. A.
Stark, Daniel P.
Newman, Andrew B.
Miller, Daniel R.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Dept Astron, Steward Observ
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherIOP PUBLISHING LTD
CitationEvidence for a Hard Ionizing Spectrum from a z=6.11 Stellar Population 2017, 836 (1):L14 The Astrophysical Journal
Rights© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
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AbstractWe present the Magellan/FIRE detection of highly ionized C IV lambda 1550 and O III]lambda 1666 in a deep infrared spectrum of the z = 6.11 gravitationally lensed low-mass galaxy RXC J2248.7-4431-ID3, which has previously known Ly alpha. No corresponding emission is detected at the expected location of He II lambda 1640. The upper limit on He II, paired with detection of O III] and C IV, constrains possible ionization scenarios. Production of C IV and O III] requires ionizing photons of 2.5-3.5 Ryd, but once in that state their multiplet emission is powered by collisional excitation at lower energies (similar to 0.5 Ryd). As a pure recombination line, He II emission is powered by 4 Ryd ionizing photons. The data therefore require a spectrum with significant power at 3.5 Ryd but a rapid drop toward 4.0 Ryd. This hard spectrum with a steep drop is characteristic of low-metallicity stellar populations, and less consistent with soft AGN excitation, which features more 4 Ryd photons and hence higher He II flux. The conclusions based on ratios of metal line detections to helium non-detection are strengthened if the gas metallicity is low. RXJ2248-ID3 adds to the growing handful of reionization-era galaxies with UV emission line ratios distinct from the general z = 2-3 population in a way that suggests hard ionizing spectra that do not necessarily originate in AGNs.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsNational Science Foundation [AST-1410155]