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Looking at the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array: Discovery of a Luminous OH Megamaser at z > 0.5

Abstract : In the local universe, OH megamasers (OHMs) are detected almost exclusively in infrared-luminous galaxies, with a prevalence that increases with IR luminosity, suggesting that they trace gas-rich galaxy mergers. Given the proximity of the rest frequencies of OH and the hyperfine transition of neutral atomic hydrogen (H I), radio surveys to probe the cosmic evolution of H I in galaxies also offer exciting prospects for exploiting OHMs to probe the cosmic history of gas-rich mergers. Using observations for the Looking At the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array (LADUMA) deep H I survey, we report the first untargeted detection of an OHM at z > 0.5, LADUMA J033046.20-275518.1 (nicknamed "Nkalakatha"). The host system, WISEA J033046.26-275518.3, is an infrared-luminous radio galaxy whose optical redshift z ≍ 0.52 confirms the MeerKAT emission-line detection as OH at a redshift z OH = 0.5225 ± 0.0001 rather than H I at lower redshift. The detected spectral line has 18.4σ peak significance, a width of 459 ± 59 km s-1, and an integrated luminosity of (6.31 ± 0.18 [statistical] ± 0.31 [systematic]) × 103 L , placing it among the most luminous OHMs known. The galaxy's far-infrared luminosity L FIR = (1.576 ±0.013) × 1012 L marks it as an ultraluminous infrared galaxy; its ratio of OH and infrared luminosities is similar to those for lower-redshift OHMs. A comparison between optical and OH redshifts offers a slight indication of an OH outflow. This detection represents the first step toward a systematic exploitation of OHMs as a tracer of galaxy growth at high redshifts.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, June 29, 2022 - 8:42:07 AM
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Marcin Glowacki, Jordan D. Collier, Amir Kazemi-Moridani, Bradley Frank, Hayley Roberts, et al.. Looking at the Distant Universe with the MeerKAT Array: Discovery of a Luminous OH Megamaser at z > 0.5. The Astrophysical journal letters, Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2022, 931, pp.L7. ⟨10.3847/2041-8213/ac63b0⟩. ⟨insu-03707835⟩

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