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Title: METAL-POOR, COOL GAS IN THE CIRCUMGALACTIC MEDIUM OF A z = 2.4 STAR-FORMING GALAXY: DIRECT EVIDENCE FOR COLD ACCRETION?

In our current galaxy formation paradigm, high-redshift galaxies are predominantly fueled by accretion of cool, metal-poor gas from the intergalactic medium. Hydrodynamical simulations predict that this material should be observable in absorption against background sightlines within a galaxy's virial radius, as optically thick Lyman limit systems (LLSs) with low metallicities. Here we report the discovery of exactly such a strong metal-poor absorber at an impact parameter R = 58 kpc from a star-forming galaxy at z = 2.44. Besides strong neutral hydrogen (N{sub H{sup 0}}=10{sup 19.50±0.16} cm{sup -2}) we detect neutral deuterium and oxygen, allowing a precise measurement of the metallicity: log{sub 10}(Z/Z {sub ☉}) = –2.0 ± 0.17, or (7-15) × 10{sup –3} solar. Furthermore, the narrow deuterium linewidth requires a cool temperature <20,000 K. Given the striking similarities between this system and the predictions of simulations, we argue that it represents the direct detection of a high-redshift cold-accretion stream. The low-metallicity gas cloud is a single component of an absorption system exhibiting a complex velocity, ionization, and enrichment structure. Two other components have metallicities >0.1 solar, 10 times larger than the metal-poor component. We conclude that the photoionized circumgalactic medium (CGM) of this galaxy is highly inhomogeneous: themore » majority of the gas is in a cool, metal-poor and predominantly neutral phase, but the majority of the metals are in a highly ionized phase exhibiting weak neutral hydrogen absorption but strong metal absorption. If such inhomogeneity is common, then high-resolution spectra and detailed ionization modeling are critical to accurately appraise the distribution of metals in the high-redshift CGM.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, Heidelberg D-69117 (Germany)
  2. Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, 1156 High Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95064 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22215415
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 776; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ABSORPTION; CLOUDS; COMPUTERIZED SIMULATION; DEUTERIUM; DISTRIBUTION; GALAXIES; HYDROGEN; IMPACT PARAMETER; METALS; OXYGEN; PHOTOIONIZATION; QUASARS; RED SHIFT; STARS; STREAMS