NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0371

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0371


PI: Steven Finkelstein, Texas A&M University, stevenf@physics.tamu.edu
Address: Department of Physics, 4242 TAMU, College Station, TX 77845

CoI: James Rhoads, Arizona State University
CoI: Sangeeta Malhotra, Arizona State University
CoI: Casey Papovich, Texas A&M University
CoI: Evan Scannapieco, Arizona State University

Title: Spectroscopy of Population III Hosting Galaxies at z ~ 3.1 and Lyman Alpha Galaxies at z ~ 4.5

Abstract: While Population III, or metal-free, stars have yet to be detected, theory shows that their existence should be widespread at very high redshifts, with their number density peaking around z ~ 10. Although the mean metallicity of the Universe is much higher than the critical value for Pop III star formation by the time we reach observable epochs, the inhomogenaity of metal transfer allows for Pop III stars to form as low as z ~ 2. We have used narrowband data to probe He \sc ii (lambda)1640 emission in a sample of z ~ 3.1 \lya emitting galaxies, which tend to be young and thus are good candidates for primitive systems. We request spectroscopy with Magellan/IMACS for a sub-sample of 9 objects which show a clear narrowband excess at the wavelength of He \sc ii, making them candidates for Population III-star hosting galaxies. Spectroscopic confirmation of this emission will provide the first ever detection of Pop III stars. In addition, we propose to observe ~ 130 \lya galaxies at z ~ 4.5, discovered with these same narrowband data. Previous work has shown that many of these galaxies are dusty, and that this dust emission could be detectable with current or future submm/mm instrumentation. In order to confirm the stellar population modeling results, as well as to correctly interpret the submm emission, we require spectroscopic redshift confirmations.


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