The HETDEX pilot survey. V. the physical origin of Lyα emitters probed by near-infrared spectroscopy

Mimi Song, Steven L. Finkelstein, Karl Gebhardt, Gary J. Hill, Niv Drory, Matthew L.N. Ashby, Guillermo A. Blanc, Joanna Bridge, Taylor Chonis, Robin Ciardullo, Maximilian Fabricius, Giovanni G. Fazio, Eric Gawiser, Caryl Gronwall, Alex Hagen, Jia Sheng Huang, Shardha Jogee, Rachael Livermore, Brett Salmon, Donald P. SchneiderS. P. Willner, Gregory R. Zeimann

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79 Scopus citations


We present the results from a Very Large Telescope/SINFONI and Keck/NIRSPEC near-infrared spectroscopic survey of 16 Lyα emitters (LAEs) at z = 2.1-2.5 in the COSMOS and GOODS-N fields discovered from the Hobby Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment Pilot Survey. We detect rest-frame optical nebular lines (Hα and/or [O III] λ5007) for 10 of the LAEs and measure physical properties, including the star formation rate (SFR), gas-phase metallicity, gas mass fraction, and Lyα velocity offset. We find that LAEs may lie below the mass-metallicity relation for continuum-selected star-forming galaxies at the same redshift. The LAEs all show velocity shifts of Lyα relative to the systemic redshift ranging between +85 and +296 km s-1 with a mean of +180 km s-1. This value is smaller than measured for continuum-selected star-forming galaxies at similar redshifts. The Lyα velocity offsets show a moderate correlation with the measured SFR (2.5σ), but no significant correlations are seen with the SFR surface density, specific SFR, stellar mass, or dynamical mass (≲1.5σ). Exploring the role of dust, kinematics of the interstellar medium (ISM), and geometry on the escape of Lyα photons, we find no signature of selective quenching of resonantly scattered Lyα photons. However, we also find no evidence that a clumpy ISM is enhancing the Lyα equivalent width. Our results suggest that the low metallicity in LAEs may be responsible for yielding an environment with a low neutral hydrogen column density and less dust, easing the escape of Lyα photons over that in continuum-selected star-forming galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 10 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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