Date of Award

2-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Astronomy

First Advisor

Todd M. Tripp

Second Advisor

Daniel Q. Wang

Third Advisor

Martin D. Weinberg

Subject Categories

Astrophysics and Astronomy

Abstract

This dissertation presents spectroscopic studies of gas in galaxy halos and large-scale structures through high-resolution quasar absorption lines. The broad goal of this effort is to learn how galaxies acquire their gas and how they return it to the intergalactic medium, or more generally, how galaxies interact with their environment. The study of the absorption lines due to the extraplanar 21cm "Outer Arm'' (OA) of the Milky Way toward two quasars, H1821+643 and HS0624+6907, provides valuable insight into the gas accretion processes. It yields the following results. (1) The OA is a multiphase cloud and high ions show small but significant offsets in velocity and are unlikely to be cospatial with the low ions. (2) The overall metallicity of the OA is Z=0.3-0.5 of the solar abundance, but nitrogen is underabundant. (3) The abundance of N, O, and S derived are roughly consistent with outer-galaxy emission-line abundances and the metallicity gradient derived from H II regions. The similarity of the OA kinematics to several nearby high velocity clouds (HVCs, e.g. Complexes C, G, and H) suggests that these clouds could be detritus from a merging satellite galaxy. To test this hypothesis, we build up a simple model including tidal tripping, ram-pressure stripping, and dynamical friction to consider whether the OA could be debris affiliated with the Monoceros Ring. Our model can roughly reproduce the spatial and velocity characteristics of the OA. Moreover, the metallicity of the OA is similar to the higher metallcities measured in the younger stellar components of the Monoceros Ring and the progenitor candidate, the CMa overdensity. However, both our model and the Galactic warp scenario can not explain other HVCs that are likely to be related to the OA. Instead of acquiring gas, some galaxies have their gas removed through various physical processes. Ram-pressure stripping and tidal interaction are important mechanisms for galaxies to loose their gas. The high-resolution spectrum of Mrk205 combined with H I 21 cm, CO emission, and infrared observations is utilized to study a unique transforming galaxy NGC4319. We find: (1) the object has lost most of its diffuse interstellar H I. (2) molecular hydrogen remains in the disk of the galaxy. The molecular hydrogen column density is low, but the molecular gas fraction is extraordinarily high. CO emission is also clearly detected, but only from the barred central region. (3) There is very little evidence of recent star formation in the galaxy. The results appears to match many of the predictions of Quilis et al. (2000), suggesting NGC4319 is undergoing a transformation from a spiral into an S0 due to ram-pressure stripping, possibly in tandem with tidal stripping. To understand the characteristics of gas (especially warm-hot intergalactic medium) in large scale structures, similar high resolution spectra of 31 quasars were selected based on the galaxy density showing in the 2MASS map. They provide a unbiased sample for the study of the correlation between O VI/H I absorbers and galaxies and 2MASS galaxy groups at low redshift (z<0.04). We totally discover 52 \lya\ absorbers and 7 O VI absorbers, and O VI is clearly detected using the stacking and "pixel optical depth'' techniques for nearby galaxies along the sightlines. It seems that the locations of the O VI absorbers do not correlated with the spacial distribution of large-scale structures manifested by galaxy groups, but more closely associated with individual galaxies. It indicates that the galactic winds and "feedback'' plays important role in polluting the IGM with O VI. Finally, we perform an extra investigation on the variable O VI and N V emission from the black hole binary LMC X-3 in our original absorption line study of the hot Galactic halo and the ISM of the LMC using LMC X-3 as a background source. We observe significant velocity and intensity variation in both O VI and N V emission. Their trends suggest that illumination of the B-star atmosphere by the intense X-ray emission from the accreting black hole creates a hot spot on one side of the B star, and this hot spot is the origin of the O VI and N V emission.

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