2023 journal article

The Bimodal Absorption System Imaging Campaign (BASIC). I. A Dual Population of Low-metallicity Absorbers at z < 1

The Bimodal Absorption System Imaging Campaign (BASIC). I. A Dual Population of Low-metallicity Absorbers at z < 1. ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, 944(1).

By: M. Berg, N. Lehner, J. Howk, . John M. O'Meara, J. Schaye, L. Straka, K. Cooksey, T. Tripp ...

Source: Web Of Science
Added: March 6, 2023

The bimodal absorption system imaging campaign (BASIC) aims to characterize the galaxy environments of a sample of 36 HI-selected partial Lyman limit systems (pLLSs) and Lyman limit systems (LLSs) in 23 QSO fields at $z \lesssim 1$. These pLLSs/LLSs provide a unique sample of absorbers with unbiased and well-constrained metallicities, allowing us to explore the origins of metal-rich and low-metallicity circumgalactic medium (CGM) at $z<1$. Here we present Keck/KCWI and VLT/MUSE observations of 11 of these QSO fields (19 pLLSs) that we combine with HST/ACS imaging to identify and characterize the absorber-associated galaxies. We find 23 unique absorber-associated galaxies, with an average of one associated galaxy per absorber. For seven absorbers, all with $<10\%$ solar metallicities, we find no associated galaxies with $\log M_\star \gtrsim 9.0$ within $\rho/R_{vir}$ and $|\Delta v|/v_{esc} \le$ 1.5 with respect to the absorber. We do not find any strong correlations between the metallicities or HI column densities of the gas and most of the galaxy properties, except for the stellar mass of the galaxies: the low-metallicity ([X/H] $\le -1.4$) systems have a probability of $0.39^{+0.16}_{-0.15}$ for having a host galaxy with $\log M_\star \ge 9.0$ within $\rho/R_{vir} \le 1.5$, while the higher metallicity absorbers have a probability of $0.78^{+0.10}_{-0.13}$. This implies metal-enriched pLLSs/LLSs at $z<1$ are typically associated with the CGM of galaxies with $\log M_\star > 9.0$, whereas low-metallicity pLLSs/LLSs are found in more diverse locations, with one population arising in the CGM of galaxies and another more broadly distributed in overdense regions of the universe. Using absorbers not associated with galaxies, we estimate the unweighted geometric mean metallicity of the intergalactic medium to be [X/H] $\lesssim -2.1$ at $z<1$, which is lower than previously estimated.