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GMRT mini-survey to search for 21-cm absorption in Quasar-Galaxy Pairs at z~0.1

N. Gupta, R. Srianand, D. V. Bowen, D. G. York, Y. Wadadekar

Published 2010-07-02Version 1

We present the results from our 21-cm absorption survey of a sample of 5 quasar-galaxy pairs (QGPs), with the redshift of the galaxies in the range 0.03<zg<0.18, selected from the SDSS. The HI 21-cm absorption was searched towards the 9 sight lines with impact parameters ranging from 10 to 55 kpc using GMRT. 21-cm absorption was detected only in one case i.e. towards the Quasar (zq=2.625 SDSS J124157.54+633241.6)-galaxy (zg=0.143 SDSS J124157.26+633237.6) pair with the impact parameter 11 kpc. The quasar sight line in this case pierces through the stellar disk of a galaxy having near solar metallicity (i.e (O/H)+12=8.7) and star formation rate uncorrected for dust attenuation of 0.1 M_odot/yr. The quasar spectrum reddened by the foreground galaxy is well fitted with the Milky Way extinction curve (with an Av of 0.44) and the estimated HI column density is similar to the value obtained from 21-cm absorption assuming spin temperature of 100K. Combining our sample with the z<0.1 data available in the literature, we find the detectability of 21-cm absorption with integrated optical depth greater than 0.1 km\s to be 50% for the impact parameter less than 20 kpc. Using the surface brightness profiles and relationship between the optical size and extent of the HI disk known for nearby galaxies, we conclude that in most of the cases of 21-cm absorption non-detection, the sight lines may not be passing through the HI gas. We also find that in comparison to the absorption systems associated with these QGPs, z<1 DLAs with 21-cm absorption detections have lower CaII equivalent widths despite having higher 21-cm optical depths and smaller impact parameters. This suggests that the current sample of DLAs may be a biased population that avoids sight lines through dusty star-forming galaxies. A systematic survey of QGPs is needed to confirm these findings and understand the nature of 21-cm absorbers.

Comments: 17 pages, 5 tables, 19 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS (abstract abridged)
Categories: astro-ph.CO
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