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The origin of the hot gas in the galactic halo: confronting models with XMM-Newton observations

The origin of the hot gas in the galactic halo: confronting models with XMM-Newton observations

Publication date: 16 October 2010

Authors: Henley, D.B., et al.

Journal: The Astrophysical Journal
Volume: 723
Page: 935-953
Year: 2010

Copyright: IOP Publishing 2010

We compare the predictions of three physical models for the origin of the hot halo gas with the observed halo X-ray emission, derived from 26 high-latitude XMM-Newton observations of the soft X-ray background between l = 120° and l = 240°. These observations were chosen from a much larger set of observations as they are expected to be the least contaminated by solar wind charge exchange emission. We characterize the halo emission in the XMM-Newton band with a single-temperature plasma model. We find that the observed halo temperature is fairly constant across the sky (~(1.8-2.4) × 106 K), whereas the halo emission measure varies by an order of magnitude (~0.0005-0.006 cm-6 pc). When we compare our observations with the model predictions, we find that most of the hot gas observed with XMM-Newton does not reside in isolated extraplanar supernova (SN) remnants - this model predicts emission an order of magnitude too faint. A model of an SN-driven interstellar medium, including the flow of hot gas from the disk into the halo in a galactic fountain, gives good agreement with the observed 0.4-2.0 keV surface brightness. This model overpredicts the halo X-ray temperature by a factor of ~2, but there are a several possible explanations for this discrepancy. We therefore conclude that a major (possibly dominant) contributor to the halo X-ray emission observed with XMM-Newton is a fountain of hot gas driven into the halo by disk SNe. However, we cannot rule out the possibility that the extended hot halo of accreted material predicted by disk galaxy formation models also contributes to the emission.

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