Damped Lyman-alpha system

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Damped Lyman alpha systems or Damped Lyman alpha absorption systems are concentrations of neutral hydrogen gas, detected in the spectra of quasars. They are defined to be systems where the column density (density projected along the line of sight to the quasar) of hydrogen is larger than 2 x 1020 atoms/cm2.[1][2]

The observed spectra consist of neutral hydrogen Lyman alpha absorption lines which are broadened by radiation damping. These systems can be observed in quantity at relatively high redshifts of 2-4, when they contained most of the neutral hydrogen in the universe. They are believed to be associated with the early stages of galaxy formation, as the high neutral hydrogen column densities of DLAs are also typical of sightlines in the Milky Way, and other nearby galaxies. Since they are observed in absorption rather than by their stars, they offer the opportunity to study the dynamics of the gas in early galaxies directly.


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References[edit]

  1. ^ Coles, Peter; Lucchin, Francesco (2002). Cosmology: The Origin and Evolution of Cosmic Structure (2nd ed.). England: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 430–432. ISBN 0-471-48909-3. 
  2. ^ Lanzetta, Kenneth M (2001). "Lyman Alpha Absorption: The Damped Systems". Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics. ISBN 0-333-75088-8.