VLT/UVES observations of peculiarαabundances in a sub-DLA atz≈ 1.8 towards the quasar B1101−26

Anne Fox, Philipp Richter, Cora Fechner
2014 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
We present a detailed analysis of chemical abundances in a sub-damped Lyman alpha absorber at z=1.839 towards the quasar B1101-26, based on a very-high-resolution (R ~ 75,000) and high-signal-to-noise (S/N >100) spectrum observed with the UV Visual Echelle spectrograph (UVES) installed on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). The absorption line profiles are resolved into a maximum of eleven velocity components spanning a rest-frame velocity range of 200 km/s. Detected ions include CII, CIV, NII,
more » ... lude CII, CIV, NII, OI, MgI, MgII, AlII, AlIII, SiII, SiIII, SiIV, FeII, and possibly SII. The total neutral hydrogen column density is log N(HI) = 19.48 +/- 0.01. From measurements of column densities and Doppler parameters we estimate element abundances of the above-given elements. The overall metallicity, as traced by [OI/HI], is -1.56 +/- 0.01. For the nitrogen-to-oxygen ratio we derive an upper limit of [NI/OI] < -0.65, which suggests a chemically young absorption line system. This is supported by a supersolar alpha/Fe ratio of [SiII/FeII] ~ 0.5. The most striking feature in the observed abundance pattern is an unusually high sulphur-to-oxygen ratio of 0.69 < [SII/OI] < 1.26. We calculate detailed photoionisation models for two subcomponents with Cloudy, and can rule out that ionisation effects alone are responsible for the high S/O ratio. We instead speculate that the high S/O ratio is caused by the combination of several effects, such as specific ionisation conditions in multi-phase gas, unusual relative abundances of heavy elements, and/or dust depletion in a local gas environment that is not well mixed and/or that might be related to star-formation activity in the host galaxy. We discuss the implications of our findings for the interpretation of alpha-element abundances in metal absorbers at high redshift.
doi:10.1051/0004-6361/201423825 fatcat:zxg5v6fmujbqlaozoharrycuxa