A submillimetre survey of Lyman α haloes in the SA 22 protocluster at z = 3.1

J. E. Geach, Y. Matsuda, Ian Smail, S. C. Chapman, T. Yamada, R. J. Ivison, T. Hayashino, K. Ohta, Y. Shioya, Y. Taniguchi

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77 Citations (Scopus)


We present the results from a submillimetre (submm) survey of a sample of 23 giant Lyman α (Lyα) emitting nebulae in the overdensity at z = 3.09 in the SA 22 field. These objects, which have become known as Lyα Blobs (LABs), have a diverse range of morphology and surface brightness, but the nature of their power source remains unclear, with both cooling flows or starburst/active galactic nucleus (AGN) ionized winds being possibilities. Using the Submillimetre Common-User Bolometer Array (SCUBA) submm camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), we measure the 850-μm flux of a sample of LABs. We present detections of submm emission from four LABs at >3.5σ individually, and obtain a modest statistical detection of the full sample at an average flux of 3.0 ± 0.9 mJy. These detections indicate significant activity within the LAB haloes, with bolometric luminosities in the ultraluminous regime (> 1012 L), equivalent to a star formation rate (SFR) of ∼103 M yr -1. By comparisons to LAB-like objects in other regions, we show that there is an apparent trend (although weak) between observed Lyα emission and bolometric luminosity. Combined with our detection of ultraluminous activity in this population and the lack of any strong morphological correlations in our sample, this provides evidence that the interaction of an ambient halo of gas with a Galactic-scale 'superwind' is most likely to be responsible for the extended Lyα emission in the majority of LABs. Assuming the extent of the LABs reflects outflows from a superwind, we estimate the age of starbursts in the submm LABs to be in the range 10-100 Myr. Using the average submm flux of the LABs, we determine an SFR density in the SA 22 structure of >3 M yr-1 Mpc-3, greater than the field at this epoch. The submm detection of these four LABs means there are now seven luminous submm galaxies in the z = 3.09 structure in SA 22, making this the largest known association of these intensely active galaxies. This clustering further strengthens the proposed evolutionary link between these galaxies and local cluster ellipticals. Finally, we suggest that the highly extended Lyα haloes (which define the LAB class) may be a common feature of the submm galaxy population in general, underlining their role as potentially important sources of metal enrichment and heating of the intergalactic medium (IGM).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1398-1408
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Nov 11
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology: observations
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Galaxies: high-redshift
  • Galaxies: starburst

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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