Fluctuations of the intergalactic ionization field at redshiftz~ 2

I. I. Agafonova, S. A. Levshakov, D. Reimers, H.-J. Hagen, D. Tytler
2013 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
(Abridged) Aims. To probe the spectral energy distribution (SED) of the ionizing background radiation at z ~ 2 and to specify the sources contributing to the intergalactic radiation field. Methods. The spectrum of a bright quasar HS1103+6416 (zem = 2.19) contains five successive metal-line absorption systems at zabs = 1.1923, 1.7193, 1.8873, 1.8916, and 1.9410. The systems are optically thin and reveal multiple lines of different metal ions with the ionization potentials lying in the extreme
more » ... raviolet (EUV) range (1 Ryd to 0.2 keV). For each system, the EUV SED of the underlying ionization field is reconstructed by means of a special technique developed for solving the inverse problem in spectroscopy. For the zabs = 1.8916 system, the analysis also involves the HeI resonance lines of the Lyman series and the HeI 504 A continuum, which are seen for the first time in any cosmic object except the Sun. Results. From one system to another, the SED of the ionizing continuum changes significantly, indicating that the intergalactic ionization field at z ~ 2 fluctuates at the scale of at least Delta_z ~ 0.004. This is consistent with Delta_z ~ 0.01 estimated from HeII and HI Lyman-alpha forest measurements between the redshifts 2 and 3.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201220818 fatcat:qoe5ngyy4fdpxob5yqe6j37awm