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The Fuse Survey of O VI in and near the Milky Way

  • B. D. Savage (a1), B. P. Wakker (a1), K. R. Sembach (a2), P. Richter (a3) and M. Meade (a1)...

Abstract

We summarize the results of the Far-Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) program to study O VI in the Milky Way halo. Spectra of 100 extragalactic objects and two distant halo stars are analyzed to obtain measures of O VI absorption along paths through the Milky Way thick disk/halo and beyond. Strong O VI absorption over the velocity range from −100 to 100 km s−1 reveals a widespread but highly irregular distribution of O VI, implying the existence of substantial amounts of hot gas with T~3×105 K in the Milky Way thick disk/halo. The overall distribution of O VI can be described by a plane-parallel patchy absorbing layer with an average O VI mid-plane density of n o (O VI) = 1.7×10−8 cm−3, an exponential scale height of ~2.3 kpc, and a ~0.25 dex excess of O VI in the northern Galactic polar region. Approximately 60 percent of the sky is covered by high velocity O VI with |v LSR|>100 km s−1. This high velocity O VI traces a variety of phenomena in and near the Milky Way including outflowing material from the Milky Way, tidal interactions with the Magellanic Clouds, accretion of gas onto the Milky Way, and warm/hot gas interactions in a highly extended (>70 kpc) Galactic corona or with hot intergalactic gas in the Local Group.

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