We report on new imaging observations of the Lyman alpha emission line (Lyα), performed with the Hubble Space Telescope, that comprise the backbone of the Lyman alpha Reference Sample. We present images of 14 starburst galaxies at redshifts 0.028 < z < 0.18 in continuum-subtracted Lyα, Hα, and the far ultraviolet continuum. We show that Lyα is emitted on scales that systematically exceed those of the massive stellar population and recombination nebulae: as measured by the Petrosian 20% radius, R P20, Lyα radii are larger than those of Hα by factors ranging from 1 to 3.6, with an average of 2.4. The average ratio of Lyα-to-FUV radii is 2.9. This suggests that much of the Lyα light is pushed to large radii by resonance scattering. Defining the Relative Petrosian Extension of Lyα compared to Hα, ξLyα = R Lyα P20/R Hα P20, we find ξLyα to be uncorrelated with total Lyα luminosity. However, ξLyα is strongly correlated with quantities that scale with dust content, in the sense that a low dust abundance is a necessary requirement (although not the only one) in order to spread Lyα photons throughout the interstellar medium and drive a large extended Lyα halo.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Astronomía y astrofísica
- Ciencias planetarias y espacial