Early metal enrichment of gas-rich galaxies at z~5 [GA]


We present abundance measurements of elements O, C, Si and Fe for three gas-rich galaxies at z~5 using observations from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Keck telescope in order to better constrain the early chemical enrichment of gas-rich galaxies. These galaxies show strong Lyman-{\alpha} absorption in the spectra of background quasars, with neutral hydrogen column densities log N${_H{}_I}$(cm$^{-2}$)=20.10$\pm$0.15, 20.10$\pm$0.15, and 20.80$\pm$0.15. Using the undepleted element O, we find the metallicities [O/H] to be in the range of -2.51 to -2.05 dex. Our study has doubled the existing sample of measurements of undepleted elements at z>4.5. Combining our measurements with those from the literature, we find that the N${_H{}_I}$-weighted mean metallicity of z~5 absorbers is consistent with the prediction based on z<4.5 DLAs. Thus, we find no significant evidence of a sudden drop in metallicity at z>4.7 as reported by some prior studies. We also determine the extent of dust depletion using a combination of both the volatile element O and the refractory elements Si and/or Fe. Some of the absorbers show evidence of depletion of elements on dust grains, e.g. low [Si/O] or [Fe/O]. The relative abundances of these absorbers along with other z~5 absorbers from the literature show some peculiarities, e.g. low [C/O] in several absorbers and high [Si/O] in one absorber. Finally, we find that the metallicity vs. velocity dispersion relation of z~5 absorbers may be different from that of lower-redshift absorbers.

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S. Poudel, V. Kulkarni, S. Morrison, et. al.
Wed, 11 Oct 17

Comments: 15 pages, 14 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS