Grace Olivier (Texas A&M University)
Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy
College Station, Texas 77843
Currently, the observational and theoretical toolbox cannot discern between accretion onto black holes or hot massive stars as the source of ionizing photons for this cosmic reionization. The key to understanding the physical processes responsible for reionizing the universe are the nearby galaxies that are analogues to galaxies during the Epoch of Reionization. Recently, an exciting population of extremely low-metallicity star-forming galaxies have been discovered in the local universe. This sample provides the first laboratories of massive star populations at metallicities below 10% solar, similar to the galaxies during the Reionization Era. Using deep FUV and optical spectra of two of these extremely low-metallicity galaxies, we have found that both galaxies have unprecedentedly large very high-ionization optical and FUV emission lines. We demonstrate that canonical photoionization models, using typical stellar population models, catastrophically fail to reproduce the high-ionization emission lines. We propose an additional ionizing source in the models is necessary to reproduce the entire suite of emission lines observed in extreme emission-line galaxies. To test this scenario, we analyze Chandra observations of these two galaxies to constrain the high-energy sources.
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