Discovery of a multiphase O VI and O VII absorber in the circumgalactic/intergalactic transition region
Aims: The observational constraints on the baryon content of the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM) rely almost entirely on far ultraviolet (FUV) measurements. However, cosmological, hydrodynamical simulations predict strong correlations between the spatial distributions of FUV and X-ray absorbing WHIM. We investigate this prediction by analyzing XMM-Newton X-ray counterparts of FUV-detected intergalactic O VI absorbers known from FUSE and HST/STIS data, thereby aiming to gain understanding on the properties of the hot component of FUV absorbers and to compare this information to the predictions of simulations.
Methods: We study the X-ray absorption at the redshift of the only significantly detected O VI absorber in the Ton S 180 sightline's FUV spectrum, found at zOVI = 0.04579 ± 0.00001. We characterize the spectral properties of the O VI-O VIII absorbers and explore the ionization processes behind the measured absorption. The observational results are compared to the predicted warm-hot gas properties in the EAGLE simulation to infer the physical conditions of the absorber.
Results: We detect both O VI and O VII absorption at a 5σ confidence level, whereas O VIII absorption is not significantly detected. Collisional ionization equilibrium (CIE) modeling constrains the X-ray absorbing gas temperature to log TCIE (K) = 6.22 ± 0.05 with a total hydrogen column density NH = 5.8−2.2+3.0 × Z⊙/Zabs × 1019 cm−2. This model predicts an O VI column density consistent with that measured in the FUV, but our limits on the O VI line width indicate > 90% likelihood that the FUV-detected O VI arises from a different, cooler phase. We find that the observed absorber lies about a factor of two further away from the detected galaxies than is the case for similar systems in EAGLE
Conclusions: The analysis suggests that the detected O VI and O VII trace two different - warm and hot - gas phases of the absorbing structure at z ≈ 0.046, of which the hot component is likely in collisional ionization equilibrium. As the baryon content information of the studied absorber is primarily imprinted in the X-ray band, understanding the abundance of similar systems helps to define the landscape for WHIM searches with future X-ray telescopes. Our results highlight the crucial role of line widths for the interpretation and detectability of WHIM absorbers.
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Pub Date:
- December 2021
- X-rays: individuals: TonS180;
- intergalactic medium;
- large-scale structure of Universe;
- Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies
- Accepted for publication in A\&