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Astron. Astrophys. 327, 47-56


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The z = 0.558 absorption system towards PKS 0118-272:
A candidate Damped Ly FORMULA system at low redshift*

G. Vladilo1, M. Centurión2, R. Falomo3, and P. Molaro1

1Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Via G.B. Tiepolo 11, I-34131 Trieste, Italy (e-mail: vladilo@ts.astro.it, molaro@ts.astro.it)
2Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, I-38200, La Laguna (Tenerife), Spain (e-mail: mcm@iac.es)
3Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell' Osservatorio 5, I-35122 Padova, Italy (e-mail: rfalomo@pd.astro.it)

Received 8 April 1997 / Accepted 12 June 1997

Abstract

We present a study of the Mg II absorption system at z = 0.558 towards the BL Lac object PKS 0118-272 based on high resolution spectra (FORMULA) obtained at the 3.6m ESO telescope and on direct imaging data obtained at the 3.5m ESO New Technology Telescope. At the redshift of the absorber we detect lines of the low ionization species Mg I, Mg II, Ca II, Ti II, Mn II, and Fe II. Most of the lines are unsaturated and we determine accurate column densities for all the species but Mg II. The derived column densities are typical of the interstellar gas in the disk of the Galaxy. By assuming dust-free gas with solar abundances these column densities yield N(HI) > 2.5 FORMULA 1019 cm-2; however, the relative elemental abundances suggest that some dust is present and that N(HI) FORMULA 2 FORMULA 1020 cm-2. The inferred HI column density indicates that the absorber is a Damped Ly FORMULA system. We find [Ti/Fe] = +0.3, in agreement with [Ti/Fe] measurements in DLA absorbers, but [Mn/Fe] = +0.4, at variance with the values [Mn/Fe] < 0 common to DLA systems. The measured [Ti/Fe] and [Mn/Fe] ratios match remarkably well the differential depletion pattern of low-density interstellar clouds in the Galaxy. Unlike high-redshift DLA systems (FORMULA), the z = 0.558 absorber seems to originate in a galaxy that has already attained the abundances and dust content of present-day disk galaxies. The analysis of our imaging data lends support to the presence of an intervening galaxy. After a careful subtraction of the BL Lac image, an object at 1.6FORMULA from PKS 0118-272 is detected. At the absorber redshift the projected distance of this close companion (14 h50-1 kpc) and its absolute magnitude (MFORMULA -22.3) are consistent with those found for galaxies associated with low-redshift DLA systems.

Key words: quasars: absorption lines - galaxies: ISM, abundances - BL Lacertae objects: individual: PKS 0118-272 - galaxy: abundances

*Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory (La Silla, Chile)

Send offprint requests to: G. Vladilo, Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, Via G.B. Tiepolo 11, I-34131 Trieste, Italy


© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: October 1, 1997
Last change: April 8, 1998
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