Escape of Lyman continuum radiation from local galaxies - Detection of leakage from the young starburst Tol 1247-232
The escape fraction of hydrogen ionizing photons (f_esc) from galaxies has been suggested to be evolving with time, but the picture is far from clear. While evidence for significant escape fractions has been found at high redshifts in several studies, the picture looks different in the more nearby universe. Here, we apply a new background subtraction routine on archival data from the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE), in order to study local galaxies in search for possible Lyman Continuum (LyC) leakage. In the process, for the first time a stacked spectrum in the LyC is produced for local galaxies. With this small sample, we also make a more tentative approach to look for possible correlations between f_esc and physical parameters such as internal absorption E(B-V)_i, mass, H I mass, specific star formation rate (SSFR), metallicity, and Ly-alpha emission. Eight star forming galaxies with redshifts z > 0.015 from the FUSE archive were re-examined. Also, a sub-sample of an additional four galaxies with lower redshifts were included, for which the escape fraction was estimated from residual flux in the low ionization interstellar C II(1036\AA) line. Out of the eight galaxies, only one was found to have significant LyC leakage, Tol 1247-232 (S/N=5.2). This is the second detection of a leaking galaxy in the local universe. We find an absolute escape fraction for Tol 1247-232 of f_esc = 2.4(+0.9/-0.8) %. The stacked sample show an excess in the LyC with f_esc = 1.4(+0.6/-0.5) %, but we note that there might be important selection biases involved. With the small sample, we suggest a possible trend for higher f_esc with lower mass and with enhanced SSFR. None of the galaxies with high values of E(B-V)_i were found to show any sign of leakage.