EDP Sciences
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Volume 367, Number 1, February III 2001
Page(s) 299 - 310
Section Diffuse matter in space
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20000346

A&A 367, 299-310 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20000346

ORFEUS echelle spectra: Molecular hydrogen in disk, IVC, and HVC gas in front of the LMC

H. Bluhm1, K. S. de Boer1, O. Marggraf1 and P. Richter1, 2

1  Sternwarte, Universität Bonn, Auf dem Hügel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany
2  Washburn Observatory, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 475 N. Charter Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA

(Received 5 September 2000 / Accepted 17 November 2000 )

In front of the LMC molecular hydrogen is found in absorption near 0 km s-1, being local disk gas, near +60 km s-1 in an intermediate velocity cloud, and near +120 km s-1, being a high velocity halo cloud. The nature of the gas is discussed based on four ORFEUS far UV spectra of LMC stars and including data from the ground and from the IUE satellite. The local gas is cool and, given a span of sight lines of only $2.5^\circ$, rather fluffy. The fractional abundance of H2 varies from $\log f=\log [N({\rm H}_2)/(2\cdot N({\rm H}_2)+N(\rm {\ion{H}{i}}))]=-5.4$ to -3.3. Metal depletions (up to -1.7 dex for Fe) are typical for galactic disk gas. In the intermediate and high velocity gas an apparent underabundance of neutral oxygen points to an ionization level of the gas of about 90% . H2 is detected in intermediate and high velocity gas towards HD 269546. In the intermediate velocity gas we find an H2 column density of $\log(N)\simeq15.6$. The H2 excitation indicates that the line of sight samples a cloud at a temperature below 150 K. Column densities are too small to detect the higher UV pumped excitation levels. The high velocity H2 ( $\log(N)\simeq15.6$) is highly excited and probably exposed to a strong radiation field. Its excitation temperature exceeds 1000 K. Due to the radial velocity difference between the halo gas and the Milky Way disk, the unattenuated disk radiation is available for H2 excitation in the halo. We do not find evidence for an intergalactic origin of this gas; a galactic as well as a Magellanic Cloud origin is possible.

Key words: ISM: abundances -- ISM: molecules -- Galaxy: structure -- ultraviolet: ISM

Offprint request: H. Bluhm, hbluhm@astro.uni-bonn.de

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