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On the Redshift Evolution of the Lyα Escape Fraction and the Dust Content of Galaxies

Abstract : The Lyα emission line has been proven to be a powerful tool for studying evolving galaxies at the highest redshift. However, in order to use Lyα as a physical probe of galaxies, it becomes vital to know the Lyα escape fraction (f Lyα esc). Unfortunately, due to the resonant nature of Lyα, f Lyα esc may vary unpredictably and requires empirical measurement. Here, we compile Lyα luminosity functions (LFs) between redshifts z = 0 and 8 and, combined with Hα and ultraviolet data, assess how f Lyα esc evolves with redshift. We find a strong upward evolution in f Lyα esc over the range z = 0.3-6, which is well fit by the power law f Lyα escvprop(1 + z)ξwith ξ = (2.57+0.19 -0.12). This predicts that f Lyα esc should reach unity at z = 11.1. By comparing f Lyα esc and E B-V in individual galaxies we derive an empirical relationship between f Lyα esc and E B-V , which includes resonance scattering and can explain the redshift evolution of f Lyα esc between z = 0 and 6 purely as a function of the evolution in the dust content of galaxies. Beyond z ≈ 6.5, f Lyα esc drops more substantially, an effect attributed to either ionizing photon leakage, or an increase in the neutral gas fraction of the intergalactic medium. While distinguishing between these two scenarios may be extremely challenging, by framing the problem this way we remove the uncertainty of the halo mass from Lyα-based tests of reionization. We finally derive a new method by which to estimate the dust content of galaxies, based purely upon the observed Lyα and UV LFs. These data are characterized by an exponential with an e-folding scale of z EBV ≈ 3.4.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, April 19, 2022 - 4:27:10 PM
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Matthew Hayes, Daniel Schaerer, Göran Östlin, J. Miguel Mas-Hesse, Hakim Atek, et al.. On the Redshift Evolution of the Lyα Escape Fraction and the Dust Content of Galaxies. The Astrophysical Journal, 2011, 730, ⟨10.1088/0004-637X/730/1/8⟩. ⟨insu-03646033⟩

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