Lyman 'bump' galaxies - I. Spectral energy distribution of galaxies with an escape of nebular Lyman continuum

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32 Citations (Scopus)


It is essential to know galactic emissivity and spectrum of Lyman continuum (LyC) in order to understand the cosmic re-ionization. Here we consider an escape of nebular LyC from galaxies and examine the consequent spectral energy distribution. It is usually assumed that hydrogen nebular LyC mostly produced by bound-free transitions is consumed within photoionized nebulae (so-called on-the-spot approximation). However, an escape of the continuum should be taken into account if stellar LyC escapes from galaxies through 'matter-bounded' nebulae. We show that the escaping hydrogen bound-free LyC makes a strong bump just below the Lyman limit. Such a galaxy would be observed as a Lyman 'bump' galaxy. This bump results from the radiation energy redistribution of stellar LyC by nebulae. The strength of the bump depends on electron temperature in nebulae, escape fraction of stellar and nebular LyC, hardness of stellar LyC (i.e. metallicity, initial mass function, age and star formation history) and intergalactic medium attenuation. We can use the bump to find very young (∼1 Myr), massive (∼100 M) and extremely metal-poor (or metal-free) stellar populations at z < 4. Because of the bump, 900-to-1500 Å luminosity density ratio (per Hz) becomes maximum (two-three times larger than the stellar intrinsic ratio) when about 40 per cent of the stellar LyC is absorbed by nebulae. The total number of escaping LyC photons increases due to the escape of nebular LyC but does not exceed the stellar intrinsic one. The radiation energy redistribution by nebulae reduces the mean energy of escaping LyC only by ≈10 per cent relative to that of stellar LyC. Therefore, the effect of the escape of nebular LyC on the re-ionization process may be small.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1325-1333
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Cosmology: theory
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • H ii regions
  • Intergalacticmedium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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