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3D tomography of the giant Lyα nebulae of z ≈ 3–5 radio-loud AGN

Wang, Wuji; Wylezalek, Dominika; Vernet, Joël; De Breuck, Carlos; Gullberg, Bitten; Swinbank, Mark; Villar Martín, Montserrat; Lehnert, Matthew D.; Drouart, Guillaume; Arrigoni Battaia, Fabrizio; Humphrey, Andrew; Noirot, Gaël; Kolwa, Sthabile; Seymour, Nick; Lagos, Patricio

3D tomography of the giant Lyα nebulae of z ≈ 3–5 radio-loud AGN Thumbnail


Wuji Wang

Dominika Wylezalek

Joël Vernet

Carlos De Breuck

Bitten Gullberg

Montserrat Villar Martín

Matthew D. Lehnert

Guillaume Drouart

Fabrizio Arrigoni Battaia

Andrew Humphrey

Gaël Noirot

Nick Seymour

Patricio Lagos


Lyα emission nebulae are ubiquitous around high-redshift galaxies and are tracers of the gaseous environment on scales out to ≳100 pkpc (proper kiloparsec). High-redshift radio galaxies (HzRGs, type-2 radio-loud quasars) host large-scale nebulae observed in the ionised gas differ from those seen in other types of high-redshift quasars. In this work, we exploit MUSE observations of Lyα nebulae around eight HzRGs (2.92 < z < 4.51). All of the HzRGs have large-scale Lyα emission nebulae with seven of them extended over 100 pkpc at the observed surface brightness limit (∼2 − 20 × 10−19 erg s−1 cm−2 arcsec−2). Because the emission line profiles are significantly affected by neutral hydrogen absorbers across the entire nebulae extent, we performed an absorption correction to infer maps of the intrinsic Lyα surface brightness, central velocity, and velocity width, all at the last scattering surface of the observed Lyα photons. We find the following: (i) that the intrinsic surface brightness radial profiles of our sample can be described by an inner exponential profile and a power law in the low luminosity extended part; (ii) our HzRGs have a higher surface brightness and more asymmetric nebulae than both radio-loud and radio-quiet type-1 quasars; (iii) intrinsic nebula kinematics of four HzRGs show evidence of jet-driven outflows but we find no general trends for the whole sample; (iv) a relation between the maximum spatial extent of the Lyα nebula and the projected distance between the active galactic nuclei (AGN) and the centroids of the Lyα nebula; and (v) an alignment between radio jet position angles and the Lyα nebula morphology. All of these findings support a scenario in which the orientation of the AGN has an impact on the observed nebular morphologies and resonant scattering may affect the shape of the surface brightness profiles, nebular kinematics, and relations between the observed Lyα morphologies. Furthermore, we find evidence showing that the outskirts of the ionised gas nebulae may be ‘contaminated’ by Lyα photons from nearby emission halos and that the radio jet affects the morphology and kinematics of the nebulae. Overall, this work provides results that allow us to compare Lyα nebulae around various classes of quasars at and beyond cosmic noon (z ∼ 3).


Wang, W., Wylezalek, D., Vernet, J., De Breuck, C., Gullberg, B., Swinbank, M., …Lagos, P. (2023). 3D tomography of the giant Lyα nebulae of z ≈ 3–5 radio-loud AGN. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 680, Article A70.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 26, 2023
Online Publication Date Dec 12, 2023
Publication Date 2023-12
Deposit Date Jan 22, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jan 22, 2024
Journal Astronomy & Astrophysics
Print ISSN 0004-6361
Electronic ISSN 1432-0746
Publisher EDP Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 680
Article Number A70
Keywords Space and Planetary Science; Astronomy and Astrophysics
Public URL


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