Inspiraling streams of enriched gas observed around a massive galaxy 11 billion years ago

Shiwu Zhang, Zheng Cai, Dandan Xu, Rhythm Shimakawa, Fabrizio Arrigoni Battaia, Jason Xavier Prochaska, Renyue Cen, Zheng Zheng, Yunjing Wu, Qiong Li, Liming Dou, Jianfeng Wu, Ann Zabludoff, Xiaohui Fan, Yanli Ai, Emmet Gabriel Golden-Marx, Miao Li, Youjun Lu, Xiangcheng Ma, Sen WangRan Wang, Feng Yuan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Stars form in galaxies, from gas that has been accreted from the intergalactic medium. Simulations have shown that recycling of gas—the reaccretion of gas that was previously ejected from a galaxy—could sustain star formation in the early Universe. We observe the gas surrounding a massive galaxy at redshift 2.3 and detect emission lines from neutral hydrogen, helium, and ionized carbon that extend 100 kiloparsecs from the galaxy. The kinematics of this circumgalactic gas is consistent with an inspiraling stream. The carbon abundance indicates that the gas had already been enriched with elements heavier than helium, previously ejected from a galaxy. We interpret the results as evidence of gas recycling during high-redshift galaxy assembly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-498
Number of pages5
Issue number6644
StatePublished - May 5 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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