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Evidence for PopIII-like Stellar Populations in the Most Luminous Lyman-α Emitters at the Epoch of Reionization: Spectroscopic Confirmation

D. Sobral, J. Matthee, B. Darvish, D. Schaerer, B. Mobasher, H. J. A. R÷ttgering, S. Santos, S. Hemmati

Faint Lyα emitters become increasingly rarer toward the reionization epoch (z ~ 6–7). However, observations from a very large (~5 deg2) Lyα narrow-band survey at z = 6.6 show that this is not the case for the most luminous emitters, capable of ionizing their own local bubbles. Here we present follow-up observations of the two most luminous Lyα candidates in the COSMOS field: "MASOSA" and "CR7." We used X-SHOOTER, SINFONI, and FORS2 on the Very Large Telescope, and DEIMOS on Keck, to confirm both candidates beyond any doubt. We find redshifts of z = 6.541 and z = 6.604 for "MASOSA" and "CR7," respectively. MASOSA has a strong detection in Lyα with a line width of 386 ± 30 km s−1 (FWHM) and with very high EW0 (>200 Å), but undetected in the continuum, implying very low stellar mass and a likely young, metal-poor stellar population. "CR7," with an observed Lyα luminosity of 1043.92±0.05 erg s−1 is the most luminous Lyα emitter ever found at z > 6 and is spatially extended (~16 kpc). "CR7" reveals a narrow Lyα line with 266 ± 15 km s−1 FWHM, being detected in the near-infrared (NIR) (rest-frame UV; β = −2.3 ± 0.1) and in IRAC/Spitzer. We detect a narrow He ii 1640 Å emission line (6σ, FWHM = 130 ± 30 km s−1) in CR7 which can explain the clear excess seen in the J-band photometry (EW0 ~ 80 Å). We find no other emission lines from the UV to the NIR in our X-SHOOTER spectra (He ii/O iii] 1663 Å > 3 and He ii/C iii] 1908 Å > 2.5). We conclude that CR7 is best explained by a combination of a PopIII-like population, which dominates the rest-frame UV and the nebular emission, and a more normal stellar population, which presumably dominates the mass. Hubble Space Telescope/WFC3 observations show that the light is indeed spatially separated between a very blue component, coincident with Lyα and He ii emission, and two red components (~5 kpc away), which dominate the mass. Our findings are consistent with theoretical predictions of a PopIII wave, with PopIII star formation migrating away from the original sites of star formation.

dark ages - reionization - first stars - early universe - galaxies: evolution

The Astrophysical Journal
Volume 808, Number 2, Page 139
2015 August

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Instituto de Astrof├şsica e Ci├¬ncias do Espa├žo Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa Funda├ž├úo para a Ci├¬ncia e a Tecnologia
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