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Exploring He II λ1640 emission line properties at z ∼ to 2-4

T. Nanayakkara, J. Brinchmann, L. A. Boogaard, R. J. Bouwens, S. Cantalupo, A. Feltre, W. Kollatschny, R. A. Marino, M. V. Maseda, J. Matthee, M. Paalvast, J. Richard, A. Verhamme

Deep optical spectroscopic surveys of galaxies provide a unique opportunity to investigate rest-frame ultra-violet (UV) emission line properties of galaxies at z ∼ 2 − 4.5. Here we combine VLT/MUSE Guaranteed Time Observations of the Hubble Deep Field South, Ultra Deep Field, COSMOS, and several quasar fields with other publicly available data from VLT/VIMOS and VLT/FORS2 to construct a catalogue of He II λ1640 emitters at z ≳ 2. The deepest areas of our MUSE pointings reach a 3σ line flux limit of 3.1 × 10−19 erg s−1 cm−2. After discarding broad-line active galactic nuclei, we find 13 He II λ1640 detections from MUSE with a median MUV = −20.1 and 21 tentative He II λ1640 detections from other public surveys. Excluding Lyα, all except two galaxies in our sample show at least one other rest-UV emission line, with C III] λ1907, λ1909 being the most prominent. We use multi-wavelength data available in the Hubble legacy fields to derive basic galaxy properties of our sample through spectral energy distribution fitting techniques. Taking advantage of the high-quality spectra obtained by MUSE (∼10 − 30 h of exposure time per pointing), we use photo-ionisation models to study the rest-UV emission line diagnostics of the He II λ1640 emitters. Line ratios of our sample can be reproduced by moderately sub-solar photo-ionisation models, however, we find that including effects of binary stars lead to degeneracies in most free parameters. Even after considering extra ionising photons produced by extreme sub-solar metallicity binary stellar models, photo-ionisation models are unable to reproduce rest-frame He II λ1640 equivalent widths (∼0.2 − 10 Å), thus additional mechanisms are necessary in models to match the observed He II λ1640 properties.

galaxies: ISM / galaxies: star formation / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: high-redshift

Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume 624, Article Number A89, Number of pages 28
2019 April

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