Spectroscopic properties of the z ≈ 4.5 Lyα emitters

Steve Dawson, James E. Rhoads, Sangeeta Malhotra, Daniel Stern, Arjun Dey, Hyron Spinrad, Buell T. Jannuzi, Junxian Wang, Emily Landes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Scopus citations


We present Keck Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer optical spectra of 17 Lyα-emitting galaxies and one Lyman break galaxy at z ≈ 4.5 discovered in the Large Area Lyman Alpha survey. The survey has identified a sample of ∼350 candidate Lyα-emitting galaxies at z ≈ 4.5 in a search volume of 1.5 × 106 comoving Mpc3. We targeted 25 candidates for spectroscopy; hence, the 18 confirmations presented herein suggest a selection reliability of 72%. The large equivalent widths (median Wλrest ≈ 80 Å) but narrow physical widths (Δv < 500 km s-1) of the Lyα emission lines, along with the lack of accompanying high-ionization state emission lines, suggest that these galaxies are young systems powered by star formation rather than by active galactic nucleus activity. Theoretical models of galaxy formation in the primordial universe suggest that a small fraction of Lyα-emitting galaxies at z ≈ 4.5 may still be nascent, metal-free objects. Indeed, we find with 90% confidence that three to five of the confirmed sources show W λrest > 240 Å, exceeding the maximum Lyα equivalent width predicted for normal stellar populations. Nonetheless, we find no evidence for He II λ1640 emission in either individual or composite spectra, indicating that although these galaxies are young, they are not truly primitive, Population III objects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-717
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Dec 20 2004


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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