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2 INAF, Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo Enrico Fermi 5, 50125, Firenze, Italy
3 European Southern Observatory, Karl Schwarzschild Straße 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
4 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, PO Box 808, Livermore CA, 94550, USA
5 NRAO, PO Box 0, Socorro NM, 87801, USA
6 Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, The Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore MD, 21218-2686, USA
7 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli studi Roma Tre, via della Vasca Navale 84, Roma, 00146, Italy
8 The Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, 813 Santa Barbara Street, Pasadena CA, 91101, USA
Accepted: 21 October 2004
Observations of the radio galaxy MRC 0316–257 at and the surrounding field are presented. Using narrow- and broad-band imaging obtained with the VLT, 77 candidate Lyα emitters with a rest-frame equivalent width of >15 Å were selected in a ∼7´´ field around the radio galaxy. Spectroscopy of 40 candidate emitters resulted in the discovery of 33 emission line galaxies of which 31 are Lyα emitters with redshifts similar to that of the radio galaxy, while the remaining two galaxies turned out to be  emitters. The Lyα profiles have widths (FWHM) in the range of 120–800 km s-1, with a median of 260 km s-1. Where the signal-to-noise was large enough, the Lyα profiles were found to be asymmetric, with apparent absorption troughs blueward of the profile peaks, indicative of absorption along the line of sight of an mass of at least M. Besides that of the radio galaxy and one of the emitters that is a QSO, the continuum of the emitters is faint, with luminosities ranging from 1.3 L* to <0.03 L*. The colors of the confirmed emitters are, on average, very blue. The median UV continuum slope is , bluer than the average slope of LBGs with Lyα emission (). A large fraction of the confirmed emitters (∼2/3) have colors consistent with that of dust-free starburst galaxies. Observations with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope show that the emitters that were detected in the ACS image have a range of different morphologies. Four Lyα emitters (∼25%) were unresolved with upper limits on their half light radii of kpc, three objects (∼19%) show multiple clumps of emission, as does the radio galaxy, and the rest (∼56%) are single, resolved objects with kpc. A comparison with the sizes of Lyman break galaxies at suggests that the Lyα emitters are on average smaller than LBGs. The average star formation rate of the Lyα emitters is 2.6 M as measured by the Lyα emission line or <3.9 M as measured by the UV continuum. The properties of the Lyα galaxies (faint, blue and small) are consistent with young star forming galaxies which are still nearly dust free. The volume density of Lyα emitting galaxies in the field around MRC 0316–257 is a factor of larger compared with the density of field Lyα emitters at that redshift. The velocity distribution of the spectroscopically confirmed emitters has a dispersion of 640 km s-1, corresponding to a FWHM of 1510 km s-1, which is substantially smaller than the width of the narrow-band filter ( km s-1). The peak of the velocity distribution is located within 200 km s-1 of the redshift of the radio galaxy. We conclude that the confirmed Lyα emitters are members of a protocluster of galaxies at . The size of the protocluster is unconstrained and is larger than Mpc2. The mass of this structure is estimated to be > M and could be the progenitor of a cluster of galaxies similar to e.g. the Virgo cluster.
Key words: galaxies: active / galaxies: high-redshift / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: clusters: general / cosmology: observations / cosmology: early Universe
Based on observations carried out at the European Southern Observatory, Paranal, Chile, programs LP167.A-0409 and 68.B-0295.
© ESO, 2005