NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2001A-0336

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Proposal Information for 2001A-0336


PI: Jason X. Prochaska, Carnegie Observatories, xavier@ociw.edu
Address: 813 Santa Barbara St., Pasadena, CA 91101, USA

CoI: Hsiao-Wen Chen, Carnegie Institute of Washington
CoI: John Mulchaey, Carnegie Institute of Washington

Title: Infrared Imaging of the Galaxies Responsible for z ~ 0.5O VI Absorption Systems

Abstract: A comparison of the baryonic mass density inferred from BBN with a census of visible baryonic components (i.e. galaxies, clusters, HI gas) indicates a significant fraction of the universe's baryons are hidden in a dark component. Theoretical investigations into these 'missing' baryons suggest the majority lie in a hot (T ~ 10^6 K), low density medium which can only be efficiently detected through surveys for O VI absorption. Interestingly, recent STIS and FUSE searches for O VI are consistent with this gas comprising a significant fraction of the missing baryons. Establishing the physical nature of these O VI absorbers, therefore, may have large impact on our understanding of the distribution of baryons in the universe. In particular, it is important to determine if these systems arise in individual galactic halos, the intragroup or intracluster medium, the low density 'cosmic web' which connects collapsed objects, or a different region of the universe altogether. We are currently pursuing a program to search for galaxies associated with O VI absorbers at moderate redshift (z ~ 0.5). To accomplish this project, we must estimate photometric redshifts of the galaxies in the field (~ 8' \times 8') surrounding the O VI absorbers in order to efficiently select candidates for follow-up spectroscopy. To this end, near-IR images are essential. With this proposal, we intend to obtain J and H band images of three fields surrounding four O VI absorbers in one night of observation with the Flamingos instrument. The results of this pilot program will help us to refine and focus our survey as well as double the number of O VI systems previously observed at z > 0.5.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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