A Metal-poor Damped Ly α System at Redshift 6.4
Author(s)Bañados, Eduardo; Rauch, Michael; Decarli, Roberto; Farina, Emanuele P; Hennawi, Joseph F; Mazzucchelli, Chiara; Venemans, Bram P; Walter, Fabian; Simcoe, Robert A; Prochaska, J Xavier; Cooper, Thomas; Davies, Frederick B; Chen, Shi-Fan S; ... Show more Show less
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© 2019. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved. We identify a strong Lyα damping wing profile in the spectrum of the quasar P183+05 at z = 6.4386. Given the detection of several narrow metal absorption lines at z = 6.40392, the most likely explanation for the absorption profile is that it is due to a damped Lyα system. However, in order to match the data a contribution of an intergalactic medium 5%-38% neutral or additional weaker absorbers near the quasar is also required. The absorption system presented here is the most distant damped Lyα system currently known. We estimate an H i column density of 1020.68±0.25 cm-2, metallicity [O/H] = -2.92 ± 0.32, and relative chemical abundances of a system consistent with a low-mass galaxy during the first Gyr of the universe. This object is among the most metal-poor damped Lyα systems known and, even though it is observed only ∼850 Myr after the big bang, its relative abundances do not show signatures of chemical enrichment by Population III stars.
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