The spectral evolution of the first galaxies. II. Spectral signatures of lyman continuum leakage from galaxies in the reionization epoch

Erik Zackrisson, Akio K. Inoue, Hannes Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fraction of ionizing photons that escape (f esc) from z ≳ 6 galaxies is an important parameter for assessing the role of these objects in the reionization of the universe, but the opacity of the intergalactic medium precludes a direct measurement of f esc for individual galaxies at these epochs. We argue that since f esc regulates the impact of nebular emission on the spectra of galaxies, it should nonetheless be possible to indirectly probe f esc well into the reionization epoch. As a first step, we demonstrate that by combining measurements of the rest-frame UV slope β with the equivalent width of the Hβ emission line, galaxies with very high Lyman continuum escape fractions (f esc ≥ 0.5) should be identifiable up to z = 9 through spectroscopy with the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). By targeting strongly lensed galaxies behind low-redshift galaxy clusters, JWST spectra of sufficiently good quality can be obtained for M 1500 ≲ -16.0 galaxies at z = 7 and for M 1500 ≲ -17.5 galaxies at z = 9. Dust-obscured star formation may complicate the analysis, but supporting observations with ALMA or the planned SPICA mission may provide useful constraints on this effect.

Original languageEnglish
Article number39
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume777
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Nov 1
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • dark ages, reionization, first stars
  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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