Hot gas, cold gas and sub-haloes in a Lyman α blob at redshift 2.38

Paul J. Francis*, Michael A. Dopita, James W. Colbert, Povilas Palunas, Claudia Scarlata, Harry Teplit, Gerard M. Williger, Bruce E. Woodgate

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    We present integral field spectroscopy of a Lyman α blob at redshift 2.38, with a spectral resolution three times better than previous published work. As with previous observations, the blob has a chaotic velocity structure, much of which breaks up into multiple components. Our spectroscopy shows, however, that some of these multiple components are extremely narrow: they have velocity widths of less than 100 km s-1. Combining these new data with previous observations, we argue that this Lyman α blob resides in a dark matter halo of around 1013M®. At the centre of this halo are two compact red massive galaxies. They are surrounded by hot gas, probably a superwind from merger-induced nuclear starbursts. This hot gas has shut down star formation in the non-nuclear region of these galaxies, leading to their red-and-dead colours. A filament or lump of infalling cold gas is colliding with the hot gas phase and being shocked to high temperatures, while still around 30 kpc from the red galaxies. The shock region is self-absorbed in Lyman α but produces C IV emission. Further out still, the cold gas in a number of sub-haloes is being lit up, most likely by a combination of tidally triggered star formation, bow shocks as they plough through the hot halo medium, resonant scattering of Lyman α from the filament collision and tidal stripping of gas which enhances the Lyman α escape fraction. The observed Lyman α emission from the blob is dominated by the sum of the emission from these sub-haloes. On statistical grounds, we argue that Lyman α blobs are not greatly elongated in shape and that most are not powered by ionization or scattering from a central active galactic nucleus or starburst.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-39
    Number of pages12
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    Dive into the research topics of 'Hot gas, cold gas and sub-haloes in a Lyman α blob at redshift 2.38'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this