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A study of low-metallicity DLAs at high redshift and C II* as a probe of their physical conditions

Abstract : We present a detailed high spectral resolution (R ∼ 40 000) study of five high-z damped Lyman α systems (DLAs) and one sub- DLA detected along four QSO sightlines. Four of these DLAs are very metal poor with [Fe/H] ≤ -2. One of them, at zabs = 4.202 87 towards J0953-0504, is the most metal-poor DLA at z > 4 known till date. This system shows no enhancement of C over Fe and O, and standard Population II star yields can explain its relative abundance pattern. The DLA at zabs = 2.340 06 towards J0035-0918 has been claimed to be the most carbon-enhanced metal-poor DLA. However, we show that thermal broadening is dominant in this system and, when this effect is taken into account, the measured carbon enhancement ([C/Fe] = 0.45 ± 0.19) becomes ∼10 times less than what was reported previously. The gas temperature in this DLA is estimated to be in the range of 5000-8000 K, consistent with a warm neutral medium phase. From photoionization modelling of two of the DLAs showing C II* absorption, we find that the metagalactic background radiation alone is not sufficient to explain the observed C II* cooling rate, and local heating sources, probably produced by in situ star formation, are needed. Cosmic ray heating is found to contribute ≳60 per cent to the total heating in these systems. Using a sample of metal-poor DLAs with C II* measurements, we conclude that the cosmic ray ionization rate is equal to or greater than that seen in the Milky Way in ∼33 per cent of the systems with C II* detections.
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Submitted on : Monday, April 25, 2022 - 9:46:34 AM
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R. Dutta, R. Srianand, H. Rahmani, P. Petitjean, P. Noterdaeme, et al.. A study of low-metallicity DLAs at high redshift and C II* as a probe of their physical conditions. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2014, 440, pp.307-326. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stu260⟩. ⟨insu-03645656⟩

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