NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2009B-0394

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Proposal Information for 2009B-0394


PI: John M. O'Meara, Saint Michael's College, jomeara@smcvt.edu
Address: Department of Chemistry and Physics, One Winooski Park, Colchester, VT 05439, United States

CoI: Jason X. Prochaska, University of California, Santa Cruz

Title: The Optical Depth of the Universe and the Search for Missing Metals at 2.5 < z < 3.4

Abstract: We propose to obtain 100 spectra of bright z ~ 3.2 quasars drawn primarily from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey using the MagE spectrograph on Magellan. This sample will constitute a blind search for absorption systems that have optical depths (tau)_LL ~ 0.1 - 3 at the Lyman limit. Such systems are purported to dominate the opacity of the universe at 1 Ryd. In turn, their incidence is critical for estimates of the extragalactic UV background and the processes of reionization (both HI and HeII). MagE, with its modest resolution and high throughput at (lambda) < 4000\AA, is currently the optimal instrument for this experiment. In addition, we will use the large wavelength coverage afforded by MagE to perform a census of the metallicities of these systems which may dominate the metal census at z ~ 3.


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