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Astron. Astrophys. 353, 457-464 (2000)

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Ly[FORMULA] emission from a Lyman limit absorber at z=3.036 *

J.U. Fynbo 1,2, B. Thomsen 2 and P. Moller 1

1 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
2 Institute of Physics and Astronomy, Århus University, 8000 Århus C., Denmark

Received 17 June 1999 / Accepted 21 September 1999


Deep, 17.8 hours, narrow band imaging obtained at the ESO 3.5m New Technology Telescope has revealed extended (galaxy sized) Ly[FORMULA] emission from a high redshift Lyman limit absorber. The absorber is a zabs [FORMULA] zem Lyman limit absorber seen in the spectrum of Q1205-30 at zem=3.036. The Ly[FORMULA] luminosity of the emission line object is 12-14 [FORMULA] 1041 h-2 erg s-1 for [FORMULA]=1. The size and morphology of the Ly[FORMULA] emitter are both near-identical to those of a previously reported emission line object associated with a DLA at z=1.934 (Fynbo et al. 1999a), suggesting a close connection between Lyman limit absorbers and DLAs.

We also detect six candidate Ly[FORMULA] emitting galaxies in the surrounding field at projected distances of 156-444h-1 kpc with Ly[FORMULA] luminosities ranging from 3.3 to 9.5 [FORMULA] 1041 h-2 erg s-1 for [FORMULA]=1. Assuming no obscuration of Ly[FORMULA] by dust this corresponds to star formation rates in the range 0.3 - 0.9 h-2 [FORMULA] yr-1. Comparing this to the known population of high redshift Lyman break galaxies, we find that the Lyman break galaxies in current ground based samples only make up the very bright end of the high redshift galaxy luminosity function. A significant, and possibly dominating, population of high redshift galaxies are not found in the ground based Lyman break surveys.

Key words: galaxies: quasars: absorption lines – galaxies: quasars: individual: Q1205-30 – galaxies: formation

* Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile (ESO project No. 60.B-0843)

Send offprint requests to: J.U. Fynbo

Correspondence to: jfynbo@obs.aau.dk

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 17, 1999