Journal Article

Lyman ‘bump’ galaxies – I. Spectral energy distribution of galaxies with an escape of nebular Lyman continuum

Akio K. Inoue

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 401, issue 2, pages 1325-1333
Published in print January 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Lyman ‘bump’ galaxies – I. Spectral energy distribution of galaxies with an escape of nebular Lyman continuum

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It is essential to know galactic emissivity and spectrum of Lyman continuum (LyC) in order to understand the cosmic re-ionization. Here we consider an escape of nebular LyC from galaxies and examine the consequent spectral energy distribution. It is usually assumed that hydrogen nebular LyC mostly produced by bound–free transitions is consumed within photoionized nebulae (so-called on-the-spot approximation). However, an escape of the continuum should be taken into account if stellar LyC escapes from galaxies through ‘matter-bounded’ nebulae. We show that the escaping hydrogen bound–free LyC makes a strong bump just below the Lyman limit. Such a galaxy would be observed as a Lyman ‘bump’ galaxy. This bump results from the radiation energy redistribution of stellar LyC by nebulae. The strength of the bump depends on electron temperature in nebulae, escape fraction of stellar and nebular LyC, hardness of stellar LyC (i.e. metallicity, initial mass function, age and star formation history) and intergalactic medium attenuation. We can use the bump to find very young (∼1 Myr), massive (∼100 M) and extremely metal-poor (or metal-free) stellar populations at z < 4. Because of the bump, 900-to-1500 Å luminosity density ratio (per Hz) becomes maximum (two–three times larger than the stellar intrinsic ratio) when about 40 per cent of the stellar LyC is absorbed by nebulae. The total number of escaping LyC photons increases due to the escape of nebular LyC but does not exceed the stellar intrinsic one. The radiation energy redistribution by nebulae reduces the mean energy of escaping LyC only by ≈10 per cent relative to that of stellar LyC. Therefore, the effect of the escape of nebular LyC on the re-ionization process may be small.

Keywords: H ii regions; galaxies: evolution; galaxies: high-redshift; intergalacticmedium; cosmology: observations; cosmology: theory

Journal Article.  6368 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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