GMRT mini-survey to search for 21-cm absorption in quasar-galaxy pairs at z~ 0.1

N. Gupta, R. Srianand, D. V. Bowen, D. G. York, Y. Wadadekar

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We present the results from our 21-cm absorption survey of a sample of five quasar-galaxy pairs (QGPs), with the redshift of the galaxies in the range 0.03 ≤zg≤ 0.18, selected from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). The H i 21-cm absorption was searched towards the nine sightlines with impact parameters ranging from ~10 to ~55 kpc using the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT). 21-cm absorption was detected only in one case, i.e. towards the quasar (zq= 2.625 SDSS J124157.54+633241.6)-galaxy (zg= 0.143 SDSS J124157.26+633237.6) pair with the impact parameter ~11 kpc. The quasar sightline in this case pierces through the stellar disc of a galaxy having near solar metallicity [i.e. (O/H)+12 = 8.7] and star formation rate uncorrected for dust attenuation of 0.1 M. yr-1. The quasar spectrum reddened by the foreground galaxy is well fitted with the Milky Way extinction curve (with an AV of 0.44) and the estimated H i column density is similar to the value obtained from 21-cm absorption assuming a spin temperature (TS) of 100 K.In the remaining cases, our GMRT spectra provide upper limit on N(H i) in the range (1017-1018) ×TS cm-2. Combining our sample with the z≤ 0.1 data available in the literature, we find the detectability of 21-cm absorption with integrated optical depth greater than 0.1 km s-1 to be 50 per cent for the impact parameter less than 20 kpc. Using the surface brightness profiles and a well-established relationship between the optical size and extent of the H i disc known for nearby galaxies, we conclude that in most of the cases of 21-cm absorption non-detection, the sightlines may not be passing through the H i gas (1σ column density of a few times 1019 cm-2). We also find that in comparison to the absorption systems associated with these QGPs, z < 1 damped Lyman-α absorbers (DLAs) with 21-cm absorption detections have lower Ca ii equivalent widths despite having higher 21-cm optical depths and smaller impact parameters. This suggests that the current sample of DLAs may be a biased population that avoids sightlines through dusty star-forming galaxies. A systematic survey of QGPs over a wider redshift range using a large sample is needed to confirm these findings and understand the nature of 21-cm absorbers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)849-864
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: ISM
  • Quasars: absorption lines


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