Detection of an oxygen emission line from a high-redshift galaxy in the reionization epoch

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Science  16 Jun 2016:
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0714

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The physical properties and elemental abundances of the interstellar medium in galaxies during cosmic reionization are important for understanding the role of galaxies in this process. We report the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array detection of an oxygen emission line at a wavelength of 88 micrometers from a galaxy at an epoch about 700 million years after the Big Bang. The oxygen abundance of this galaxy is estimated at about one-tenth that of the Sun. The nondetection of far-infrared continuum emission indicates a deficiency of interstellar dust in the galaxy. A carbon emission line at a wavelength of 158 micrometers is also not detected, implying an unusually small amount of neutral gas. These properties might allow ionizing photons to escape into the intergalactic medium.

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