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Spectroscopic properties of luminous Ly α emitters at z ≈ 6–7 and comparison to the Lyman-break population

J. Matthee, D. Sobral, B. Darvish, S. Santos, B. Mobasher, A. Paulino-Afonso, H. Rottgering, L. Alegre

We present spectroscopic follow-up of candidate luminous Ly α emitters (LAEs) at z = 5.7–6.6 in the SA22 field with VLT/X-SHOOTER. We confirm two new luminous LAEs at z = 5.676 (SR6) and z = 6.532 (VR7), and also present HST follow-up of both sources. These sources have luminosities LLy α ≈ 3 × 1043 erg s−1, very high rest-frame equivalent widths of EW0 ≳ 200 Å and narrow Ly α lines (200–340 km s−1). VR7 is the most UV-luminous LAE at z > 6.5, with M1500 = −22.5, even brighter in the UV than CR7. Besides Ly α, we do not detect any other rest-frame UV lines in the spectra of SR6 and VR7, and argue that rest-frame UV lines are easier to observe in bright galaxies with low Ly α equivalent widths. We confirm that Ly α line widths increase with Ly α luminosity at z = 5.7, while there are indications that Ly α lines of faint LAEs become broader at z = 6.6, potentially due to reionization. We find a large spread of up to 3 dex in UV luminosity for >L LAEs, but find that the Ly α luminosity of the brightest LAEs is strongly related to UV luminosity at z = 6.6. Under basic assumptions, we find that several LAEs at ≈ 6–7 have Ly α escape fractions ≳ 100  per cent, indicating bursty star formation histories, alternative Ly α production mechanisms, or dust attenuating Ly α emission differently than UV emission. Finally, we present a method to compute ξion, the production efficiency of ionizing photons, and find that LAEs at z ≈ 6–7 have high values of log10ion/Hz erg−1) ≈ 25.51±0.09 that may alleviate the need for high Lyman-Continuum escape fractions required for reionization.

galaxies: evolution, galaxies: high-redshift, dark ages, reionization, first stars, cosmology: observations

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 472, Issue 1, Page 18
2017 November

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Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia