Hunting for the building blocks of galaxies like our own milky way with FORS
Faculty of Sciences. Physics
Messenger = Mensajero / European Southern Observatory. - München, 1976
, p. 41-45
University of Antwerp
We report results from our ultra-deep spectroscopic survey for low surface brightness Ly alpha emitters at redshift z ~ 3. A 92-hour-long exposure with the ESO VLT FORS2 instrument has yielded a sample of 27 faint line emitters with fluxes of a few times 10-18 erg s-1 cm-2 which we argue are likely to be dominated by Ly alpha. The large comoving number density, the large covering factor, dN/dz ~ 0.2-1, and the spatially extended surface brightness of the emission suggest that the emitters can be identified with the elusive host population of damped Ly alpha systems (DLAS) and high column density Lyman limit systems. The finding suggests that most Lyman limit systems and DLAS are part of the same low-mass galaxies.