The extended H I regions around spiral galaxies: a probe for galactic structure and the intergalactic medium.
The H I disks observed at large radii around nearby spiral galaxies provide sensitive probes for the mass distributions in these galaxies and of their environments. We show, for a few well- observed systems, that there is an unseen component which dominates the mass at large radii. This additional matter cannot be gas, either neutral or ionized. The data do not distinguish strongly between flat and spherical spatial distributions for this mass, though they suggest that the distribution is spherical. An observational test is proposed to differentiate the two. We investigate the thermal interaction between a hot intergalactic medium near the closure density and these extended H I regions in the assumption of magnetic field lines extended outward into the intergalactic medium (IGM). We show that, with plausible initial conditions, the intergalactic temperature at present cannot exceed 1 x 1 0 K if the H I is to have survived until now. Consideration of conditions in the past places even more stringent limits on the temperature and density of the IGM. Survival of the H I disk also implies that these galaxies cannot have persistent hot, dense halos. The X-ray observations of M3 1, in particular, cannot be interpreted in terms of a thermal bremsstrahlung halo model, unless this halo is younger than about 10 yr. Subject headings: galaxies: intergalactic medium - galaxies: structure - radio sources: 21 cm radiation