H2O Emission in High-z Ultra-Luminous Infrared Galaxies

R. Ivison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using the IRAM Plateau de Bure interferometer (PdBI), we report the detection of water vapor in six new lensed ultra-luminous starburst galaxies at high redshift, discovered in the Herschel Astrophysical Terahertz Large Area Survey (H-ATLAS). The sources are detected either in the 2(02)-1(11) or 2(11)-2(02) H2O emission lines with integrated line fluxes ranging from 1.8 to 14 Jy km s(-1). The corresponding apparent luminosities are mu L-H2O similar to 3-12 x 10(8) L-circle dot, where mu is the lensing magnification factor (3 <mu <12). These results confirm that H2O lines are among the strongest molecular lines in high-z ultra-luminous starburst galaxies, with intensities almost comparable to those of the high-J CO lines, and similar profiles and line widths (similar to 200-900 km s(-1)). With the current sensitivity of the PdBI, the water lines can therefore easily be detected in high-z lensed galaxies (with F(500 mu m) > 100 mJy) discovered in the Herschel surveys. Correcting the luminosities for amplification, using existing lensing models, L-H2O is found to have a strong dependence on the infrared luminosity, varying as similar to L-IR(1.2). This relation, which needs to be confirmed with better statistics, may indicate a role of radiative (infrared) excitation of the H2O lines, and implies that high-z galaxies with L-IR greater than or similar to 10(13) L-circle dot tend to be very strong emitters in water vapor, that have no equivalent in the local universe.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013


  • galaxies: high-redshift
  • galaxies: starburst
  • infrared: galaxies
  • submillimeter: galaxies
  • radio lines: galaxies


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