Probing the assembly of dwarf galaxies through cosmic time with damped ly absorption spectroscopy

Myoungwon Jeon, Gurtina Besla, Volker Bromm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


We investigate the absorption features associated with a gas-rich dwarf galaxy, using cosmological hydrodynamics simulations. Our goal is to explore whether the progenitors of the lowest-mass dwarf galaxies known to harbor neutral hydrogen today (M 106 M, Mhalo 4 10 M = 9) could possibly be detected as Damped Ly? Absorbers (DLAs) over cosmic time. We trace the evolution of a single dwarf galaxy, preselected to contain DLAs, from the era of the first metal-free, so-called Population?III (Pop III) stars, down to z?=?0, thus allowing us to study the metal enrichment history of DLAs associated with the simulated galaxy. We find that the progenitors of the simulated dwarf are expected to be seen for most of their evolution as DLAs that are contaminated by normal, Population?II stars. The time period during which DLAs are only metal-enriched by Pop?III stars, on the other hand, is likely very brief, confined to high redshifts, z 6. The susceptibility of the dwarfs to the external UV radiation background allows them to preserve neutral gas only at the center (a few ?100 pc). This results in a small probability that the simulated dwarf would be observed as a DLA. This study suggests that DLAs are unlikely to be hosted in the lowest-mass dwarfs that can harbor neutral gas (Mhalo 4 10 M ? 9), below which neutral gas is unlikely to exist. However, this study does illustrate that, when detected, absorption lines provide a powerful method for probing ISM conditions inside the smallest dwarf galaxies at intermediate to high redshifts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number98
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 20 2019


  • galaxies: abundances-cosmology: theory-galaxies: dwarf-galaxies: formation-galaxies: highredshift-hydrodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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