University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

The outer disk of the Milky Way seen in ë21 cm absorption

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 23:49 authored by John DickeyJohn Dickey, Strasser, S, Gaensler, BM, Haverkorn, M, Kavars, D, McClure-Griffiths, NM, Stil, J, Taylor, AR
Three recent surveys of 21 cm line emission in the Galactic plane, combining single dish and interferometer observations to achieve resolution of 1'-2', ~1 km s–1, and good brightness sensitivity, have provided some 650 absorption spectra with corresponding emission spectra for study of the distribution of warm and cool phase H I in the interstellar medium. These emission-absorption spectrum pairs are used to study the temperature of the interstellar neutral hydrogen in the outer disk of the Milky Way, outside the solar circle, to a radius of 25 kpc. The cool neutral medium is distributed in radius and height above the plane with very similar parameters to the warm neutral medium. In particular, the ratio of the emission to the absorption, which gives the mean spin temperature of the gas, stays nearly constant with radius to ~25 kpc radius. This suggests that the mixture of cool and warm phases is a robust quantity, and that the changes in the interstellar environment do not force the H Iinto a regime where there is only one temperature allowed. The mixture of atomic gas phases in the outer disk is roughly 15-20% cool (40-60 K), the rest warm, corresponding to mean spin temperature ~250-400 K. The Galactic warp appears clearly in the absorption data, and other features on the familiar longitude-velocity diagram have analogs in absorption with even higher contrast than for 21 cm emission. In the third and fourth Galactic quadrants the plane is quite flat, in absorption as in emission, in contrast to the strong warp in the first and second quadrants. The scale height of the cool gas is similar to that of the warm gas, and both increase with Galactic radius in the outer disk.


Publication title

The Astrophysical Journal








School of Natural Sciences


University of Chicago Press

Place of publication

Chicago, USA

Rights statement

Copyright © 2009. The American Astronomical Society.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the physical sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager