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Published January 2017 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

VIMOS Ultra-Deep Survey (VUDS): IGM transmission towards galaxies with 2.5 < z < 5.5 and the colour selection of high-redshift galaxies


The observed UV rest-frame spectra of distant galaxies are the result of their intrinsic emission combined with absorption along the line of sight produced by the inter-galactic medium (IGM). Here we analyse the evolution of the mean IGM transmission Tr(Lyα) and its dispersion along the line of sight for 2127 galaxies with 2.5 < z < 5.5 in the VIMOS Ultra Deep Survey (VUDS). We fitted model spectra combined with a range of IGM transmission to the galaxy spectra using the spectral fitting algorithm GOSSIP+. We used these fits to derive the mean IGM transmission towards each galaxy for several redshift slices from z = 2.5 to z = 5.5. We found that the mean IGM transmission defined as Tr(Lyα) = e^(−τ) (with τ as the HI optical depth) is 79%, 69%, 59%, 55%, and 46% at redshifts 2.75, 3.22, 3.70, 4.23, and 4.77, respectively. We compared these results to measurements obtained from quasar lines of sight and found that the IGM transmission towards galaxies is in excellent agreement with quasar values up to redshift z ~ 4. We found tentative evidence for a higher IGM transmission at z ≥ 4 compared to results from QSOs, but a degeneracy between dust extinction and IGM prevents us from firmly concluding whether the internal dust extinction for star-forming galaxies at z > 4 takes a mean value significantly in excess of E(B−V) > 0.15. Most importantly, we found a large dispersion of IGM transmission along the lines of sight towards distant galaxies with 68% of the distribution within 10 to 17% of the median value in δz = 0.5 bins, similar to what is found on the lines of sight towards QSOs. We demonstrate that taking this broad range of IGM transmission into account is important when selecting high-redshift galaxies based on their colour properties (e.g. LBG or photometric redshiftselection) because failing to do so causes a significant incompleteness in selecting high-redshift galaxy populations. We finally discuss the observed IGM properties and speculate that the broad range of observed transmissions might be the result of cosmic variance and clustering along lines of sight. This clearly shows that the sources that cause this extinction need to be more completely modelled.

Additional Information

© 2017 ESO. Received 14 November 2014; Accepted 28 June; Published online 09 January 2017. Based on data obtained with the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope, Paranal, Chile, under Large Program 185.A-0791. We thank G. Becker, J. M. Deharveng, A. Inoue, C. Péroux, and M. Pieri for useful discussions. This work is supported by funding from the European Research Council Advanced Grant ERC-2010-AdG-268107-EARLY and by INAF Grants PRIN 2010, PRIN 2012 and PICS 2013. A.C., O.C., M.T. and V.S. acknowledge the grant MIUR PRIN 2010–2011. This work is based on data products made available at the CESAM data center, Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille, France.

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Published - aa25342-14.pdf

Submitted - 1411.5692.pdf


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