The VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey (VUDS): fast increase in the fraction of strong Lyman-α emitters from z = 2 to z = 6
Aims: The aim of this work is to constrain the evolution of the fraction of strong Lyα emitters among UV selected star-forming galaxies at 2 <z< 6, and to measure the stellar escape fraction of Lyα photons over the same redshift range.
Methods: We exploit the ultradeep spectroscopic observations with VIMOS on the VLT collected by the VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey (VUDS) to build an unique, complete, and unbiased sample of ~4000 spectroscopically confirmed star-forming galaxies at 2 <z< 6. Our galaxy sample includes UV luminosities brighter than M*FUV at 2 <z< 6, and luminosities down to one magnitude fainter than M*FUV at 2 <z< 3.5.
Results: We find that 80% of the star-forming galaxies in our sample have EW0(Lyα) < 10 Å, and correspondingly fesc(Lyα) < 1%. By comparing these results with the literature, we conclude that the bulk of the Lyα luminosity at 2 <z< 6 comes from galaxies that are fainter in the UV than those we sample in this work. The strong Lyα emitters constitute, at each redshift, the tail of the distribution of the galaxies with extreme EW0(Lyα) and fesc(Lyα). This tail of large EW0(Lyα) and fesc(Lyα) becomes more important as the redshift increases, and causes the fraction of strong Lyα with EW0(Lyα) > 25 Å to increase from ~5% at z ~ 2 to ~30% at z ~ 6, with the increase being stronger beyond z ~ 4. We observe no difference, for the narrow range of UV luminosities explored in this work, between the fraction of strong Lyα emitters among galaxies fainter or brighter than M*FUV, although the fraction for the faint galaxies evolves faster, at 2 <z< 3.5, than for the bright ones. We do observe an anticorrelation between E(B - V) and fesc(Lyα): generally galaxies with high fesc(Lyα) also have small amounts of dust (and vice versa). However, when the dust content is low (E(B - V) < 0.05) we observe a very broad range of fesc(Lyα), ranging from 10-3 to 1. This implies that the dust alone is not the only regulator of the amount of escaping Lyα photons.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- January 2015
- galaxies: evolution;
- galaxies: formation;
- galaxies: high-redshift;
- galaxies: fundamental parameters;
- cosmology: observations;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies;
- Astrophysics - Cosmology and Nongalactic Astrophysics
- 12 pages, 6 figures, A&