NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2001B-0376

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Proposal Information for 2001B-0376


PI: James D. Lowenthal, University of Massachusetts, james@astro.umass.edu
Address: LGRT 526, Amherst, MA 01060, USA

CoI: Nicolas Bouche, University of Massachusetts

Title: Galaxies near Distant Damped Ly(alpha) Clouds

Abstract: The identification and detailed study of galaxies at high redshift remains the most direct path to understanding galaxy formation and evolution. Here we propose to obtain \bf deep, broad-band images in UBVIK_s with MOSAIC and FLAMINGOS at the 4-m of 3 fields containing QSO damped \lya clouds at 2<z<4 to \bf search for and study companion galaxies using photometric redshift techniques. The major questions we wish to address are: (1) Are the damped \lya clouds embedded in \bf much larger systems of galaxies? (2) What are the \bf underlying stellar populations of galaxies associated with DLAs? (3) What are the \bf star formation rates of companion galaxies as close as 10 kpc to the DLAs as measured via broad-band fluxes? (4) How does DLA metallicity relate to the incidence of emitters? (5) How does the distribution of emitters in 3D (space + redshift) correlate with the observed velocity structure of absorbers? We do not expect to detect single galaxies clearly responsible for the DLAs; there may not even be one. Rather, it is the associated systems we are aiming for. These deep continuum data will be an important complement both to existing absorption-line spectroscopy of the damped clouds and to Lyman break galaxy field surveys, and will represent the largest such survey to date. While the photometric redshifts should be accurate enough with those bands to determine physical association with the damped clouds, we expect that spectroscopy at Gemini or other 8-m class telescopes will be required both to confirm the redshifts and to extend the analysis. This is the second time request for this program; the proposed observations would bring our total to 5 fields.


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