The discovery of a galaxy-wide superwind from a young massive galaxy at redshift z ≈ 3

Article metrics

Abstract

High-velocity galactic outflows, driven by intense bursts of star formation and black hole accretion, are processes invoked by current theories of galaxy formation1 to terminate star formation in the most massive galaxies and to deposit heavy elements in the intergalactic medium. From existing observational evidence2,3 (for high-redshift galaxies) it is unclear whether such outflows are localized to regions of intense star formation just a few kiloparsecs in extent, or whether they instead have a significant impact on the entire galaxy and its surroundings. Here we present two-dimensional spectroscopy of a star-forming galaxy4 at redshift z = 3.09 (seen 11.5 gigayears ago, when the Universe was 20 per cent of its current age): its spatially extended Lyα line emission appears to be absorbed by H i in a foreground screen covering the entire galaxy, with a lateral extent of at least 100 kpc and remarkable velocity coherence. This screen was ejected from the galaxy during a starburst several 108 years earlier and has subsequently swept up gas from the surrounding intergalactic medium and cooled. This demonstrates the galaxy-wide impact of high-redshift superwinds.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Part of the data cube obtained from integral field spectroscopy of the z = 3.09 galaxy LAB-2, showing the Lyα emission line.
Figure 2: A reconstructed image of the z = 3.09 galaxy LAB-2 in the Lyα emission line.
Figure 3: Lyα emission line profiles across the galaxy LAB-2 at z = 3.09. A profile is shown for each region labelled in Fig. 2.
Figure 4: An illustration of our model for the Lyα emission and absorption in the redshift z = 3.09 galaxy LAB-2.

References

  1. 1

    Benson, A. J. et al. What shapes the luminosity function of galaxies? Astrophys. J. 599, 38–49 (2003)

  2. 2

    Pettini, M. et al. The rest-frame optical spectra of Lyman break galaxies: star formation, extinction, abundances, and kinematics. Astrophys. J. 554, 981–1000 (2001)

  3. 3

    Pettini, M. et al. New observations of the interstellar medium in the Lyman break galaxy MS 1512-cB58. Astrophys. J. 569, 742–757 (2002)

  4. 4

    Steidel, C. C. et al. Lyα imaging of a proto-cluster region at <z > = 3.09. Astrophys. J. 532, 170–182 (2000)

  5. 5

    Lehnert, M. D., Heckman, T. M. & Weaver, K. A. Very extended X-ray and Hα emission in M82: implications for the superwind phenomenon. Astrophys. J. 523, 575–584 (1999)

  6. 6

    Adelberger, K. L., Steidel, C. C., Shapley, A. E. & Pettini, M. Galaxies and intergalactic matter at redshift z3: overview. Astrophys. J. 584, 45–75 (2003)

  7. 7

    Chapman, S. C. et al. Further multiwavelength observations of the SSA 22 Lyα-emitting blob. Astrophys. J. 606, 85–91 (2004)

  8. 8

    Taniguchi, Y. & Shioya, Y. Superwind model of extended Lyα emitters at high redshift. Astrophys. J. 532, 13–16 (2000)

  9. 9

    Fardal, M. A. et al. Cooling radiation and the Lyα luminosity of forming galaxies. Astrophys. J. 562, 605–617 (2001)

  10. 10

    Chapman, S. C. et al. Submillimeter imaging of a protocluster at z = 3.09. Astrophys. J. 548, 17–21 (2001)

  11. 11

    Basu-Zych, A. & Scharf, C. X-ray detection of an obscured active galactic nucleus in a z = 3.09 radio-quiet Lyα nebula. Astrophys. J. 615, 85–88 (2004)

  12. 12

    Bacon, R. et al. The SAURON project—I. The panoramic integral-field spectrograph. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 326, 23–35 (2001)

  13. 13

    Bower, R. G. et al. Deep SAURON spectral imaging of the diffuse Lyα halo LAB-1 in SSA 22. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 351, 63–69 (2004)

  14. 14

    Tenorio-Tagle, G., Silich, S. A., Kunth, D., Terlevich, E. & Terlevich, R. The evolution of superbubbles and the detection of Lyα in star-forming galaxies. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 309, 332–342 (1999)

  15. 15

    Mas-Hesse, J. M. et al. Lyα emission in starbursts: implications for galaxies at high redshift. Astrophys. J. 598, 858–877 (2003)

  16. 16

    Sutherland, R. S. & Dopita, M. A. Cooling functions for low-density astrophysical plasmas. Astrophys. J. Suppl. 88, 253–327 (1993)

  17. 17

    Binette, L., Kurk, J. D., Villar-Martín, M. & Röttgering, H. J. A. A vestige low metallicity gas shell surrounding the radio galaxy 0943–242 at z = 2.92. Astron. Astrophys. 356, 23–32 (2000)

  18. 18

    Rocca-Volmerange, B., Le Borge, D., De Breuck, C., Fioc, M. & Moy, E. The radio galaxy K-z relation: The 1012 M mass limit. Astron. Astrophys. 415, 931–940 (2004)

  19. 19

    Neufeld, D. A. The transfer of resonance-line radiation in static astrophysical media. Astrophys. J. 350, 216–241 (1990)

  20. 20

    Steidel, C. C. The properties of absorption-line selected high-redshift galaxies. in The Environment and Evolution of Galaxies (eds Shull, J. M. & Thronson, H. A.) 263–294 (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, 1993)

  21. 21

    Boissier, S., Péroux, C. & Pettini, M. Damped Lyman α systems and disc galaxies: number density, column density distribution and gas density. Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. Lett. 338, 131–140 (2003)

  22. 22

    Davé, R., Hernquist, L., Katz, N. & Weinberg, D. H. The low-redshift Lyman α forest in cold dark matter cosmologies. Astrophys. J. 511, 521–545 (1999)

  23. 23

    Schaye, J. On the relation between high-redshift starburst galaxies and damped Lyα absorption systems. Astrophys. J. 559, 1–4 (2001)

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the SAURON team for supporting this programme, together with E. Emsellem, E. Jourdeuil and ING staff for support on La Palma. The construction of SAURON was financed by contributions from ASTRON/NWO, the Institut des Sciences de l'Univers, the Université Claude Bernard Lyon-I, the universities of Durham and Leiden, The British Council, PPARC, and NOVA. R.J.W. and R.G.B. acknowledge support from PPARC, and R.G.B. also thanks the Leverhulme Foundation. J.G. is supported by the Euro3D research training network.

Author information

Correspondence to R. J. Wilman.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

Reprints and permissions information is available at npg.nature.com/reprintsandpermissions. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Wilman, R., Gerssen, J., Bower, R. et al. The discovery of a galaxy-wide superwind from a young massive galaxy at redshift z ≈ 3. Nature 436, 227–229 (2005) doi:10.1038/nature03718

Download citation

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.