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Ionized Disk/Halo Gas: Insight from Optical Emission Lines and Pulsar Dispersion Measures

  • R. J. Reynolds (a1)

Abstract

Warm (≈ 104 K), diffuse H+ is a significant component of the interstellar medium within the Galactic disk and lower halo. This gas accounts for about one quarter of the interstellar atomic hydrogen, consumes a large fraction of the interstellar power budget, and appears to be the dominant state of interstellar matter 1 kpc above the midplane. The origin of this ionized gas is not yet established; however, of the known sources of ionization only 0 stars and perhaps supernovae produce enough power to balance the “cooling” rate of the gas. If 0 stars are the source of the ionization, then the interstellar HI, including the extended “Lockman layer”, must have a morphology that allows about 14% of the Lyman continuum photons emitted by the stars to travel hundreds of parsecs within the Galactic disk and up into the lower halo.

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