The expected abundance of Lyman-α emitting primeval galaxies
I. General model predictions
Max, Planck, Institut für Astronomie (MPIA), Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany e-mail: E.Thommes@thphys.uni-heidelberg.de
2 Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität Heidelberg, Philosophenweg 16, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Accepted: 1 October 2004
We present model calculations for the expected surface density of Ly-α emitting primeval galaxies (PGs) at high redshifts. We assume that elliptical galaxies and bulges of spiral galaxies (=spheroids) formed early in the universe and that the Ly-α emitting PGs are these spheroids during their first burst of star formation at high redshift. One of the main assumptions of the models is that the Ly-α bright phase of this first starburst in the spheroids is confined to a short period after its onset due to rapid formation of dust. The models do not only explain the failure of early surveys for Ly-α emitting PGs but are also consistent with the limits of new surveys (e.g. the Calar Alto Deep Imaging Survey – CADIS). At faint detection limits W m-2 the surface density of Ly-α emitters is expected to vary only weakly in the redshift range between and with values > reaching its maximum at . At shallower detection limits, W m-2 the surface density of high-z Ly-α emitters is expected to be a steep function of redshift and detection limit. This explains the low success in finding bright Ly-α galaxies at . We demonstrate how the observed surface densities of Ly-α emitting PGs derived from recent surveys constrain the parameters of our models. Finally, we discuss the possibility that two Ly-α bright phases occur in the formation process of galaxies: An initial – primeval – phase in which dust is virtually non-existant, and a later secondary phase in which strong galactic winds as observed in some Lyman break galaxies facilitate the escape of Ly-α photons after dust has already been formed.
Key words: galaxies: formation / surveys / galaxies: high-redshift / X-ray: stars
© ESO, 2005