AAS 197, January 2001
Session 3. QSO Absorbers and the IGM
Display, Monday, January 8, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[3.09] New Metallicity Measurements of z > 3 Damped Lya Systems

J.X. Prochaska (Carnegie Observatories), A.M. Wolfe, E.J. Gawiser (UC San Diego)

In a previous paper we demonstrated that the mean metallicity of damped Ly\alpha systems exhibits no significant evolution from z=2-4. This result is surprising because it contradicts nearly every model of chemical evolution in the early universe. At z>3, however, the analysis was based on only ~10 systems and suffered from small number statistics. To address this concern we have initiated a survey of z>3 damped Ly\alpha systems with the new Echellette Spectrograph and Imager (ESI) on the Keck~II telescope. By taking advantage of the unique capabilities of ESI, we are efficiently discovering and measuring the metallicity of many new z>3 damped systems. This paper presents the first results of the survey including [Fe/H] measurements of more than 10 new systems. The combined sample still indicates minimal evolution in the mean metallicity from z=2-4 but at higher statistical significance. In the next few years we expect to identify N ~40 new systems and robustly examine the chemical enrichment history of galaxies in the early universe.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://www.ociw.edu/~xavier. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: xavier@ociw.edu

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