The properties of Heâ» II λ 1640 emitters at z 2.5-5 from the VANDELS survey

A. Saxena, L. Pentericci, M. Mirabelli, D. Schaerer, R. Schneider, F. Cullen, R. Amorin, M. Bolzonella, A. Bongiorno, A. C. Carnall, M. Castellano, O. Cucciati, A. Fontana, J. P.U. Fynbo, B. Garilli, A. Gargiulo, L. Guaita, N. P. Hathi, T. A. Hutchison, A. M. KoekemoerF. Marchi, D. J. Mcleod, R. J. Mclure, C. Papovich, L. Pozzetti, M. Talia, G. Zamorani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Aims. Strong Heâ» II emission is produced by low-metallicity stellar populations. Here, we aim to identify and study a sample of Heâ» IIλ1640-emitting galaxies at redshifts of zâ ∼â 2.5â -â 5 in the deep VANDELS spectroscopic survey. Methods. We identified a total of 33 Bright Heâ» II emitters (S/Nâ > â 2.5) and 17 Faint emitters (S/Nâ < â 2.5) in the VANDELS survey and used the available deep multi-wavelength data to study their physical properties. After identifying seven potential AGNs in our sample and discarding them from further analysis, we divided the sample of Bright emitters into 20 Narrow (FWHMâ < â 1000 km s-1) and 6 Broad (FWHMâ > â 1000 km s-1) Heâ» II emitters. We created stacks of Faint, Narrow, and Broad emitters and measured other rest-frame UV lines such as Oâ» III] and Câ» III] in both individual galaxies and stacks. We then compared the UV line ratios with the output of stellar population-synthesis models to study the ionising properties of Heâ» II emitters. Results. We do not see a significant difference between the stellar masses, star-formation rates, and rest-frame UV magnitudes of galaxies with Heâ» II and no Heâ» II emission. The stellar population models reproduce the observed UV line ratios from metals in a consistent manner, however they under-predict the total number of Heâ» II ionising photons, confirming earlier studies and suggesting that additional mechanisms capable of producing Heâ» II are needed, such as X-ray binaries or stripped stars. The models favour subsolar metallicities (∼0.1â Zâ ) and young stellar ages (106â -â 107 years) for the Heâ» II emitters. However, the metallicity measured for Heâ» II emitters is comparable to that of non-Heâ» II emitters at similar redshifts. We argue that galaxies with Heâ» II emission may have undergone a recent star-formation event, or may be powered by additional sources of Heâ» II ionisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA47
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: Evolution
  • Galaxies: high-redshift

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The properties of Heâ» II λ 1640 emitters at z 2.5-5 from the VANDELS survey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this