Context. The hydrogen Lyman α line is often the only measurable feature in optical spectra of high-redshift galaxies. Its shape and strength are influenced by radiative transfer processes and the properties of the underlying stellar population. High equivalent widths of several hundred Å are especially hard to explain by models and could point towards unusual stellar populations, for example with low metallicities, young stellar ages, and a top-heavy initial mass function. Other aspects influencing equivalent widths are the morphology of the galaxy and its gas properties. Aims. The aim of this study is to better understand the connection between the Lyman α rest-frame equivalent width (EW0) and spectral properties as well as ultraviolet (UV) continuum morphology by obtaining reliable EW0 histograms for a statistical sample of galaxies and by assessing the fraction of objects with large equivalent widths. Methods. We used integral field spectroscopy from the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) combined with broad-band data from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to measure EW0. We analysed the emission lines of 1920 Lyman α emitters (LAEs) detected in the full MUSE-Wide (one hour exposure time) and MUSE-Deep (ten hour exposure time) surveys and found UV continuum counterparts in archival HST data. We fitted the UV continuum photometric images using the Galfit software to gain morphological information on the rest-UV emission and fitted the spectra obtained from MUSE to determine the double peak fraction, asymmetry, full-width at half maximum, and flux of the Lyman α line. Results. The two surveys show different histograms of Lyman α EW0. In MUSE-Wide, 20% of objects have EW0 > 240 Å, while this fraction is only 11% in MUSE-Deep and ≈16% for the full sample. This includes objects without HST continuum counterparts (one-third of our sample), for which we give lower limits for EW0. The object with the highest securely measured EW0 has EW0 = 589 ± 193 Å (the highest lower limit being EW0 = 4464 Å). We investigate the connection between EW0 and Lyman α spectral or UV continuum morphological properties. Conclusions. The survey depth has to be taken into account when studying EW0 distributions. We find that in general, high EW0 objects can have a wide range of spectral and UV morphological properties, which might reflect that the underlying causes for high EW0 values are equally varied.
Astronomy & Astrophysics
We thank the referee for thoughtful and constructive comments that have improved the quality of this manuscript. Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory under ESO programme 1101.A-0127. This work made use of v2.2.1 of the Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis (BPASS) models as described in Eldridge et al. (2017) and Stanway & Eldridge (2018). A.F. acknowledges the support from grant PRIN MIUR2017-20173ML3WW_001. T.N. acknowledges support from Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship FL180100060.
Kerutt J, Wisotzki L, Verhamme A, et al. Equivalent widths of Lyman α emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep. Astronomy & Astrophysics. 2022;659. doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202141900
Kerutt, J., Wisotzki, L., Verhamme, A., Schmidt, K. B., Leclercq, F., Herenz, E. C., … Vitte, E. (2022). Equivalent widths of Lyman α emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep. Astronomy & Astrophysics. EDP Sciences. https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202141900
Kerutt, J., L. Wisotzki, A. Verhamme, K. B. Schmidt, F. Leclercq, E. C. Herenz, T. Urrutia, et al. “Equivalent Widths of Lyman α Emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep.” Astronomy & Astrophysics. EDP Sciences, 2022. https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202141900.
J. Kerutt et al., “Equivalent widths of Lyman α emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep,” Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 659. EDP Sciences, 2022.
Kerutt J, Wisotzki L, Verhamme A, Schmidt KB, Leclercq F, Herenz EC, Urrutia T, Garel T, Hashimoto T, Maseda M, Matthee JJ, Kusakabe H, Schaye J, Richard J, Guiderdoni B, Mauerhofer V, Nanayakkara T, Vitte E. 2022. Equivalent widths of Lyman α emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep. Astronomy & Astrophysics. 659, 183.
Kerutt, J., et al. “Equivalent Widths of Lyman α Emitters in MUSE-Wide and MUSE-Deep.” Astronomy & Astrophysics, vol. 659, 183, EDP Sciences, 2022, doi:10.1051/0004-6361/202141900.