Journal Article

Galactic winds and extended Lyα emission from the host galaxies of high column density quasi-stellar object absorption systems

Luke A. Barnes, Martin G. Haehnelt, Edoardo Tescari and Matteo Viel

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 416, issue 3, pages 1723-1738
Published in print September 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online September 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Galactic winds and extended Lyα emission from the host galaxies of high column density quasi-stellar object absorption systems

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We present three-dimensional (3D) resonant radiative transfer simulations of the spatial and spectral diffusion of the Lyα radiation from a central source in the host galaxies of high column density absorption systems at z∼ 3. The radiative transfer simulations are based on a suite of cosmological galaxy formation simulations which reproduce a wide range of observed properties of damped Lyα absorption systems. The Lyα emission is predicted to be spatially extended up to several arcsec, and the spectral width of the Lyα emission is broadened to several hundred (in some case more than thousand) km s−1. The distribution and the dynamical state of the gas in the simulated galaxies are complex, the latter with significant contributions from rotation and both in- and out-flows. The emerging Lyα radiation extends to gas with column densities of NH I∼ 1018 cm−2 and its spectral shape varies strongly with viewing angle. The strong dependence on the central H i column density and the H i velocity field suggests that the Lyα emission will also vary strongly with time on time-scales of a few dynamical times of the central region. Such variations with time should be especially pronounced at times where the host galaxy undergoes a major merger and/or starburst. Depending on the pre-dominance of in- or out-flow along a given sightline and the central column density, the spectra show prominent blue peaks, red peaks or double-peaked profiles. Both spatial distribution and spectral shape are very sensitive to details of the galactic wind implementation. Stronger galactic winds result in more spatially extended Lyα emission and – somewhat counterintuitively – a narrower spectral distribution.

Keywords: galaxies: formation; quasars: absorption lines

Journal Article.  9592 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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