Unraveling the knots of gaseous Cosmic Web filaments at z 3 through H-alpha emission observations

Sebastiano Cantalupo*, Matteo Fossati, Michele Fumagalli, Sofia Gallego, Simon J. Lilly, Ruari Mackenzie, Raffaella Anna Marino, Michael Maseda, Jorryt Matthee, Themiya Nanayakkara, Gabriele Pezzulli, Charles C. Steidel, Stephanie Dorothy Catherine de Beer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contributionAcademic

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Our cosmological model predicts that most of the matter in the universe is distributed in a network of filaments - the Cosmic Web - in which galaxies form and evolve. Because most of this material is very diffuse, its direct imaging has for long remained elusive, leaving many questions still open, e.g.: what are the morphological and kinematical properties of the Cosmic Web on both small (kpc) and large (Mpc) scales? How do galaxies get their gas from the Cosmic Web? Here, we tackle these questions with an innovative method to detect in emission the gaseous Cosmic Web using bright quasars as "cosmic flashlights". In particular, we propose to observe in H-alpha emission two fields at z~3 which contain the largest Cosmic Web filaments - over 4 cMpc in length - discovered so far in deep MUSE Ly-alpha emission searches around bright quasars. Because Ly-alpha is affected by radiative transfer which change both its spatial and spectral distribution, non-resonant H-alpha observations are fundamental in order to directly constrain both the filament densities and kinematics. The filament projected angular sizes are perfectly suited for NIRSpec-MOS which can trace the filaments over their full length capturing, at the same time, several embedded galaxies. Our H-alpha observations will probe structures within the filaments on scales smaller than a few physical kpc directly constraining both their density and kinematics. By relating these quantities to the kinematics and distance from associated galaxies, our result will be fundamental to informing a new generation of theoretical and numerical models in order to reveal the physics of intergalactic gas accretion and galactic outflows.
Original languageEnglish
Type JWST Proposal. Cycle 1, ID. #1835
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1-Mar-2021


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