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Astron. Astrophys. 337, 51-63 (1998)

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On the kinematics of damped Lyman-[FORMULA] systems *

Cédric Ledoux 1, Patrick Petitjean 2, 3, Jacqueline Bergeron 2, 4, E.Joseph Wampler 5 and R. Srianand 6

1 Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, 11 Rue de l'Université, F-67000 Strasbourg, France (cedric@astro.u-strasbg.fr)
2 Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis Boulevard Arago, F-75014 Paris, France (ppetitje@iap.fr)
3 D.A.E.C, Observatoire de Paris-Meudon, F-92195 Meudon Principal Cedex, France
4 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild Stra[FORMULA]e 2, D-85748 Garching bei München, Germany (jbergero@eso.org)
5 418 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA (jwampler@cruzio.com)
6 I.U.C.A.A., Post Bag 4, Ganesh Khind, Pune 411 007, India (anand@iucaa.ernet.in)

Received 26 January 1998 / Accepted 19 May 1998


We report on high spectral resolution observations of five damped Lyman-[FORMULA] absorbers: [FORMULA] = 3.0248 toward Q 0347-383, [FORMULA] = 2.1411 and 2.8112 toward Q 0528-250, [FORMULA] = 2.6184 toward Q 0913+072, and [FORMULA] = 2.5226 toward Q 1213+093. Line velocity profiles and heavy element abundances are discussed.

Nitrogen is found to have abundances less than silicon in the systems toward Q 0347-383, Q 0913+072, and Q 1213+093. The absorber toward Q 0913+072 is the most metal-deficient damped system known, with [Fe/H] [FORMULA] -3.2. The simple kinematical structure of the metal absorptions makes this system ideal to discuss the [O/Si] and [N/O] ratios. We find [O/H] [FORMULA] -2.7 and -2.7 [FORMULA] [Si/H] [FORMULA] -2.2.

By combining these data with information gathered in the literature, we study the kinematics of the low and high ionization phases in a sample of 26 damped Lyman-[FORMULA] systems in the redshift range 1.17-4.38. We note a strong correlation between the velocity broadenings of the Si ii[FORMULA]1808 and Fe ii[FORMULA]1608 lines whatever the line optical depth, implying that the physical conditions are quite homogeneous in the sample. Statistically this shows that large variations of abundance ratios and thus large variations of depletion into dust grains are unlikely. The velocity broadening of the absorption lines, [FORMULA], is correlated with the asymmetry of the lines for [FORMULA] [FORMULA] 150 km s-1. The broader the line the more asymmetric it is, as expected in case rotation dominates the line broadening. However this correlation does not hold for larger [FORMULA] suggesting that evidence for rotational motions is restricted to velocity broadenings [FORMULA] [FORMULA] 150 km s-1. The systems with [FORMULA] [FORMULA] 200 km s-1 are peculiar with kinematics consistent with random motions. They show sub-systems as those expected if the objects are in the process of merging.

Although the sample is not large enough to draw firm conclusions, there is a trend for the mean velocity broadening to decrease with redshift from 80 km s-1 at z [FORMULA] 2.2 to 50 km s-1 at z [FORMULA] 2.2.

The kinematics of the low and high ionization species are found to be statistically correlated, though the high-ionization phase has a much more disturbed kinematical field than the low-ionization phase. This should be taken into account in any model of high redshift damped Lyman-[FORMULA] systems.

Key words: quasars: absorption lines – quasars: individual: Q 0347 – 383; Q 0528 – 250; Q 0913+072; Q 1213+093 – galaxies: halos

* Partly based on observations carried out at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile.

Send offprint requests to: C. Ledoux, (cedric@astro.u-strasbg.fr)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: August 6, 1998