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O v] λλ1213.8,1218.3 emission from extended nebulae around quasars: contamination of Ly α and a new diagnostic for AGN activity in Ly α emitters

A. Humphrey

Abstract
We investigate the potential for the emission lines O v] λλ1213.8,1218.3 and He ii λ1215.1 to contaminate flux measurements of Ly α λ1215.7 in the extended nebulae of quasars. We have computed a grid of photoionization models with a substantial range in the slope of the ionizing power law (−1.5 < α < −0.5), gas metallicity (0.01 < Z/Z < 3.0), gas density (1 < nH < 104 cm−3), and ionization parameter (10−5 < U < 1.0). We find the contribution from He ii λ1215.1 to be negligible, i.e. <0.1 of Ly α flux, across our entire model grid. The contribution from O v] λλ1213.8,1218.3 is generally negligible when U is low (≲10−3) and/or when the gas metallicity is low (Z/Z ≲ 0.1). However, at higher values of U and Z we find that O v] can significantly contaminate Ly α, in some circumstances accounting for more than half the total flux of the Ly α + He ii + O v] blend. We also provide means to estimate the fluxes of O v] λλ1213.8,1218.3 and He ii λ1215.1 by extrapolating from other lines. We estimate the fluxes of O v] and He ii for a sample of 107 Type 2 active galaxies at z > 2, and find evidence for significant (≥10 per cent) contamination of Ly α fluxes in the majority of cases (84 per cent). We also discuss prospects for using O v] λλ1213.8,1218.3 as a diagnostic for the presence of AGN activity in high-z Ly α emitters, and caution that the presence of significant O v] emission could impact the apparent kinematics of Ly α, potentially mimicking the presence of high-velocity gas outflows.

Keywords
line: formation; galaxies: active; galaxies: ISM; quasars: emission lines; ultraviolet: ISM; Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume 486, Issue 2, Page 2102
2019 June

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Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço Universidade do Porto Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia COMPETE 2020 PORTUGAL 2020 União Europeia