Brian A. Keeney

University of Colorado, Denver, Colorado, United States

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Publications (67)168.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present new GALEX images and optical spectroscopy of J1229+02, a dwarf post-starburst galaxy located 81 kpc from the 1585 km/s absorber in the 3C 273 sight line. The absence of H\alpha\ emission and the faint GALEX UV fluxes confirm that the galaxy's recent star formation rate is $<10^{-3} M_{\odot}$/yr. Absorption-line strengths and the UV-optical SED give similar estimates of the acceptable model parameters for its youngest stellar population where $f_m$ < 60% of its total stars (by mass) formed in a burst $t_sb$ = 0.7-3.4 Gyr ago with a stellar metallicity of -1.7 < [Fe/H] < +0.2; we also estimate the stellar mass of J1229+02 to be 7.3 < log($M_*/M_{\odot}$) < 7.8. Our previous study of J1229+02 found that a supernova-driven wind was capable of expelling all of the gas from the galaxy (none is observed today) and could by itself plausibly create the nearby absorber. But, using new data, we find a significantly higher galaxy/absorber velocity difference, a younger starburst age, and a smaller starburst mass than previously reported. Simple energy-conserving wind models for J1229+02 using fiducial values of $f_m$ ~ 0.1, $t_sb$ ~ 2 Gyr, and log(M$_*/M_{\odot}$) ~ 7.5 allow us to conclude that the galaxy alone cannot produce the observed QSO absorber; i.e., any putative ejecta must interact with ambient gas from outside J1229+02. Because J1229+02 is located in the southern extension of the Virgo cluster ample potential sources of this ambient gas exist. Based on the two nearest examples of strong metal-line absorbers discovered serendipitously (the current one and the 1700 km/s metal-line absorber in the nearby Q1230+0115 sight line), we conclude that absorbers with $10^{14} < N_{HI} < 10^{16}$ cm$^{-2}$ at impact parameters >1$R_{vir}$ are likely intergalactic systems and cannot be identified unambiguously as the circumgalactic material of any one individual galaxy.
    The Astronomical Journal 09/2014; 148(5). · 4.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) the COS Science Team has conducted a high signal-to-noise survey of 14 bright QSOs. In a previous paper (Savage et al. 2014) these far-UV spectra were used to discover 14 "warm" ($T > 10^5$ K) absorbers using a combination of broad Ly\alpha\ and O VI absorptions. A reanalysis of a few of this new class of absorbers using slightly relaxed fitting criteria finds as many as 20 warm absorbers can be present in this sample. A shallow, wide spectroscopic galaxy redshift survey has been conducted around these sight lines to investigate the warm absorber environment, which is found to be spiral-rich galaxy groups or cluster outskirts with radial velocity dispersions of \sigma_v = 250-750 km/s. While 2\sigma\ evidence is presented favoring the hypothesis that these absorptions are associated with the galaxy groups and not with the individual nearest galaxies, this evidence has considerable systematic uncertainties and so is not conclusive. However, if the associations are with galaxy groups, the observed frequency of warm absorbers dN/dz = 3.5-5 per unit redshift plus the local density of galaxy groups require these warm absorbers to be very large (~1 Mpc in radius at high covering factor) and, if diffuse (i.e., high filling factor), very massive (> $10^{11} M_{\odot}$). However, with only single probes through each group in this small sample, the conclusion that these "warm absorbers" are detections of a massive intra-group medium in spiral galaxy groups is tentative.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2014; 791(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report on the observed properties of the plasma revealed through high signal-to-noise (S/N) observations of 54 intervening O VI absorption systems containing 85 O VI and 133 H I components in a blind survey of 14 QSOs observed at ~18 km s-1 resolution with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) over a redshift path of 3.52 at z < 0.5. Simple systems with one or two H I components and one O VI component comprise 50% of the systems. For a sample of 45 well-aligned absorption components where the temperature can be estimated, we find evidence for cool photoionized gas in 31 (69%) and warm gas (6 > log T > 5) in 14 (31%) of the components. The total hydrogen content of the 14 warm components can be estimated from the temperature and the measured value of log N(H I). The very large implied values of log N(H) range from 18.38 to 20.38 with a median of 19.35. The metallicity, [O/H], in the 6 warm components with log T > 5.45 ranges from -1.93 to 0.03 with a median value of -1.0 dex. Ground-based galaxy redshift studies reveal that most of the absorbers we detect sample gas in the IGM extending 200 to 600 kpc beyond the closest associated galaxy. We estimate the warm aligned O VI absorbers contain (4.1+/-1.1)% of the baryons at low z. The warm plasma traced by the aligned O VI and H I absorption contains nearly as many baryons as are found in galaxies.
    03/2014; 212(1).
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    ABSTRACT: We use high-quality, medium-resolution HST/COS observations of 75 UV-bright AGN at redshifts $z_{\rm AGN}< 0.85$ to construct the largest survey of the low-redshift IGM to date. The catalog is comprised of 4369 individual extragalactic absorption lines of HI and 20 different metal ions grouped together into 2508 distinct redshift systems at $z_{\rm abs}<0.75$ and represents a significant improvement in total redshift pathlength and weak line sensitivity over previous studies. The column-density distribution of HI systems is seen to evolve both in amplitude and slope at $z< 0.47$. We observe 985 metal lines in 354 systems, and find that the fraction of absorbers detected in metals is strongly dependent on HI column density. OVI absorbers appear to evolve in the same sense as the Ly$\alpha$ forest. A velocity-space two-point correlation function shows substantial clustering of HI absorbers on scales of $\Delta v=50-300\rm~km~s^{-1}$ with no significant clustering at larger $\Delta v$. Most of the clustering signal comes from the stronger ($N_{\rm HI}>10^{13.5}~\rm cm^{-2}$) absorbers particularly those with metal absorption. The full catalog of absorption lines and fully-reduced spectra is available via MAST as a high-level science product at http://archive.stsci.edu/prepds/igm/.
    02/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The standard model for propagation of gamma rays from very high energy (VHE, E>100 GeV) blazars through the universe requires an understanding of the diffuse extragalactic background light (EBL). Due to photon-photon collision and pair production from gamma ray/infrared photon interaction in the intergalactic medium, we expect to see a redshift “horizon” beyond which gamma rays from these sources are no longer observable. Three TeV-bright blazars examined in this project pose a problem to the horizon hypothesis due to their substantial redshifts, requiring reevaluation of either the gamma-ray propagation model or the EBL model. This project establishes a minimum density of infrared photons and a potential lower limit on the EBL flux toward these high-z blazars by integrating and summing flux contributions from intervening galaxies within reasonable impact parameters of the blazar sight lines. Galaxies along the lines of sight and their flux contributions are inferred from from measured HI (Lyman alpha forest) and metal-ion absorbers seen in far-UV spectra of PKS1424+240 and 3C66A (HST/COS) and 3C279 (HST/FOS).
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We have detected and characterized the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of nearby late-type galaxies using both targeted and serendipitous QSO/galaxy pairs at z < 0.2. Photoionization modeling of warm CGM clouds finds volume filling factors of ~5%, cloud sizes of 0.1-30 kpc, cloud masses of 10-108 M⊙, and metallicities of ~0.1-1 Z⊙. The total mass of these warm clouds surrounding L > 0.1 L* galaxies approaches 1010 M⊙, comparable to the total baryons in massive galaxy disks. We also find evidence for an extensive (>500 kpc), hot (105 - 106 K) intracloud medium that is very massive (> 1011 M⊙). We interpret this hot, massive baryon reservoir as the intragroup medium of spiral-rich galaxy groups and find that its inclusion can solve the missing baryon problem in spiral galaxies.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The unprecedented far-UV throughput of the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is revolutionizing studies of the local intergalactic medium (IGM). In particular, COS is allowing us to refine estimates of the baryon content and metallicity of the IGM, as well as the relationship of IGM absorbers to galaxies. For the past several years we have been using WIYN/HYDRA to obtain spectra of all galaxies brighter than g=20 that are within 20 arcminutes of the ~25 AGN targeted by the COS Science Team that are accessible from the northern hemisphere. When combined with the COS spectra of these AGN, this galaxy redshift survey is enhancing our understanding of the composition and topology of the nearby Universe in both gas and galaxies, allowing us to assess the extent of metal transport away from galaxies, the filling factor of gas and metal-enriched gas in galaxy filaments, and the metallicity of gas in galaxy voids. Here we present estimates of the completeness of our survey along these sight lines and examples of close galaxy-absorber associations discovered by our survey.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: We have used the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) to obtain far-UV spectra of three closely-spaced QSO sight lines that probe the circumgalactic medium (CGM) of an edge-on spiral galaxy, ESO 157-49, at impact parameters of 74 and 93 kpc near its major axis and 172 kpc along its minor axis. H I Ly\alpha\ absorption is detected at the galaxy redshift in the spectra of all three QSOs, and metal lines of Si III, Si IV, and C IV are detected along the two major-axis sight lines. Photoionization models of these clouds suggest metallicities close to the galaxy metallicity, cloud sizes of ~1 kpc, and gas masses of ~10^4 solar masses. Given the high covering factor of these clouds, ESO 157-49 could harbor ~2x10^9 solar masses of warm CGM gas. We detect no metals in the sight line that probes the galaxy along its minor axis, but gas at the galaxy metallicity would not have detectable metal absorption with ionization conditions similar to the major-axis clouds. The kinematics of the major-axis clouds favor these being portions of a "galactic fountain" of recycled gas, while two of the three minor-axis clouds are constrained geometrically to be outflowing gas. In addition, one of our QSO sight lines probes a second more distant spiral, ESO 157-50, along its major axis at an impact parameter of 88 kpc. Strong H I Ly\alpha\ and C IV absorption only are detected in the QSO spectrum at the redshift of ESO 157-50.
    The Astrophysical Journal 01/2013; 765(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In three years of science operations onboard HST, the Cosmic OriginsSpectrograph has generated an archive of far-ultraviolet AGN spectra of unprecedented breadth, depth, and quality. COS was designed to be sensitive to many important diagnostic lines in the far-UV (1135-1800A) in the low-redshift, "local" universe: Lya (z<0.47), Lyb (0.1<z<0.7), OVI (0.1<z<0.7), SiIII (z<0.5), CIV (z<0.17), NeVIII (0.45<z<1.3), etc. We report on our ongoing survey of extragalactic absorption systems toward ~200 low- to moderate-redshift (z<1.5), UV-bright AGN. When complete mid-2013), the COS IGM absorber catalog will provide an unbiased, statistical sampling of local intergalactic absorption along ~200 extragalactic sight lines. This significant cornerstone of the scientific legacy of COS is at least an order-of-magnitude improvement over previous low-z IGM surveys in total observed pathlength and number of absorbers as well as substantial improvements in sensitivity and uniformity. Of particular interest is the sensitivity of COS to weak and broad absorption. We discuss the scope of and methodology behind the catalog, several initial discoveries, and the overall statistical findings of the survey. Finally, we discuss the new areas of cosmology enabled by this expanded study.
    01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The Circumgalactic Medium (CGM) of late-type galaxies is characterized using UV spectroscopy of 11 targeted QSO/galaxy pairs at z < 0.02 with the Hubble Space Telescope Cosmic Origins Spectrograph and ~60 serendipitous absorber/galaxy pairs at z < 0.2 with the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. CGM warm cloud properties are derived, including volume filling factors of 3-5%, cloud sizes of 0.1-30 kpc, masses of 10-1e8 solar masses and metallicities of 0.1-1 times solar. Almost all warm CGM clouds within 0.5 virial radii are metal-bearing and many have velocities consistent with being bound, "galactic fountain" clouds. For galaxies with L > 0.1 L*, the total mass in these warm CGM clouds approaches 1e10 solar masses, ~10-15% of the total baryons in massive spirals and comparable to the baryons in their parent galaxy disks. This leaves >50% of massive spiral-galaxy baryons "missing". Dwarfs (<0.1 L*) have smaller area covering factors and warm CGM masses (<5% baryon fraction), suggesting that many of their warm clouds escape. Constant warm cloud internal pressures as a function of impact parameter ($P/k ~ 10 cm^{-3} K) support the inference that previous COS detections of broad, shallow O VI and Ly-alpha absorptions are of an extensive (~400-600 kpc), hot (T ~ 1e6 K) intra-cloud gas which is very massive (>1e11 solar masses). While the warm CGM clouds cannot account for all the "missing baryons" in spirals, the hot intra-group gas can, and could account for ~20% of the cosmic baryon census at z ~ 0 if this hot gas is ubiquitous among spiral groups.
    The Astrophysical Journal 12/2012; 763(2). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical and near-IR spectroscopic observations of the luminous blue variable SN 2009ip during its remarkable photometric evolution of 2012. The spectra sample three key points in the SN 2009ip lightcurve, corresponding to its initial brightening in August (2012-A) and its dramatic rebrightening in early October (2012-B). Based on line fluxes and velocities measured in our spectra, we find a surprisingly low I(H-alpha)/I(H-beta) ratio (~1.5) in the 2012-B spectra. Such a ratio implies either a rare Case B recombination scenario where H-alpha, but not H-beta, is optically thick, or an extremely high density for the circumstellar material of n_e > 10^(13) cm^(-3). The H-alpha line intensity yields a minimum radiating surface area of >~20,000 AU^2 in H-alpha at the peak of SN 2009ip's photometric evolution. Combined with the nature of this object's spectral evolution in 2012, a high circumstellar density and large radiating surface area imply the presence of a thin disk geometry around the central star (and, consequently, a possible binary companion), suggesting that the observed 2012-B rebrightening of SN 2009ip can be attributed to the illumination of the disk's inner rim by fast-moving ejecta produced by the underlying events of 2012-A.
    11/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: The BL Lacertae object S50716+714 is one of the most studied blazars on the sky due to its active variability and brightness in many bands, including VHE gamma rays. We present here two serendipitous results from recent far-ultraviolet spectroscopic observations by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope. First, during the course of our 7.3 hour HST observations, the blazar increased in flux rapidly by ~40% (-0.45 mag/h) followed by a slower decline (+0.36 mag/h) to previous far-UV flux levels. We model this flare using asymmetric flare templates and constrain the physical size and energetics of the emitting region. Furthermore, the spectral index of the object softens considerably during the course of the flare from alpha(nu)=-1.0 to alpha(nu)=-1.4. Second, we constrain the source redshift directly using the ~30 intervening absorption systems. A system at z=0.2315 is detected in Lya, Lyb, OVI, and NV and defines the lower bound on the source redshift. No absorbers are seen in the remaining spectral coverage (0.2315<z(Lya)<0.47) and we set a statistical upper bound of z<0.322 (95% confidence) on the blazar. This is the first direct redshift limit for this object and is consistent with literature estimates of z=0.31+-0.08 based on the detection of a host galaxy.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2012; 764(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present empirical scaling relations for the significance of absorption features detected in medium resolution, far-UV spectra obtained with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS). These relations properly account for both the extended wings of the COS line spread function and the non-Poissonian noise properties of the data, which we characterize for the first time, and predict limiting equivalent widths that deviate from the empirical behavior by \leq 5% when the wavelength and Doppler parameter are in the ranges \lambda = 1150-1750 A and b > 10 km/s. We have tested a number of coaddition algorithms and find the noise properties of individual exposures to be closer to the Poissonian ideal than coadded data in all cases. For unresolved absorption lines, limiting equivalent widths for coadded data are 6% larger than limiting equivalent widths derived from individual exposures with the same signal-to-noise. This ratio scales with b-value for resolved absorption lines, with coadded data having a limiting equivalent width that is 25% larger than individual exposures when b \approx 150 km/s.
    Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 06/2012; · 3.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Ultraviolet observations of the QSO 3C 263 (zem = 0.652) with COS and FUSE reveal O VI absorption systems at z = 0.06342 and 0.14072 . WIYN multi-object spectrograph observations provide information about the galaxies associated with the absorbers. The multi-phase system at z = 0.06342 traces cool photoionized gas and warm collisionally ionized gas associated with a L ~ 0.31L* compact spiral emission line galaxy with an impact parameter of 63 kpc. The cool photoionized gas in the absorber is well modeled with log U ~ -2.6, log N(H) ~17.8, log n(H) ~ -3.3 and [Si/H] = -0.14\pm0.23. The collisionally ionized gas containing C IV and O VI probably arises in cooling shock heated transition temperature gas with log T ~ 5.5. The absorber is likely tracing circumgalactic gas enriched by gas ejected from the spiral emission line galaxy. The simple system at z = 0.14072 only contains O VI and broad and narrow H I. The O VI with b = 33.4\pm11.9 km s-1 is likely associated with the broad H I {\lambda}1215 absorption with b = 86.7\pm15.4 km s-1. The difference in Doppler parameters implies the detection of a very large column of warm gas with log T = 5.61(+0.16, -0.25), log N(H) = 19.54(+0.26, -0.44) and [O/H] = -1.48 (+0.46, -0.26). This absorber is possibly associated with a 1.6L* absorption line galaxy with an impact parameter of 617 kpc although an origin in warm filament gas or in the halo of a fainter galaxy is more likely.
    The Astrophysical Journal 05/2012; 753(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: With 20-30 times the throughput of the Hubble Space Telescope's previous far-UV spectrographs at comparable resolution, the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is revolutionizing studies of the low-redshift intergalactic medium (IGM). This new wealth of low-redshift IGM absorbers is important because only at the lowest redshifts can we probe the faint end of the galaxy luminosity function to determine the contribution of both dwarf and luminous galaxies to IGM enrichment. We will present results from recent studies of low-redshift galaxy/absorber associations targeted with COS as well as serendipitous associations combed from the STIS archive focusing on the extent and content of a galaxy's circumgalactic medium as a function of its luminosity.
    01/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Our WIYN/ HYDRA galaxy redshift survey is designed to obtain redshifts for all galaxies with a g-magnitude less than or equal to 20 located within 20’ of 39 different sightlines targeted by the COS GTO team. Data was reduced in IRAF using standard routines and the dohydra task, for spectral extraction. The redshifts were determined by IDL code developed by D. Syphers and were then inspected by eye. The program uses three methods to automatically determine the redshift: cross-correlation using template galaxies, a wavelet search for strong emission lines, and a wavelet search for Ca H&K (and other absorption lines). Inspecting these redshifts required, for each object, a verification of the cross-correlation fit and, depending on the available spectra, a determination of proper emission and absorption features. In conducting our survey of the 3C 263 sightline, we've discovered a number of galaxies in the vicinity of our sightline, including one that happens to be located extremely close to the sightline at the same redshift as an IGM absorber seen in the QSO spectrum. This galaxy's activity may have contributed to our QSO spectrum, allowing us to determine whether or not material may have been ejected from these objects.
    01/2012;
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    ABSTRACT: Thermally broadened Lyα absorbers (BLAs) offer an alternate method to using highly ionized metal absorbers (O VI, O VII, etc.) to probe the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM, T = 105-107 K). Until now, WHIM surveys via BLAs have been no less ambiguous than those via far-UV and X-ray metal-ion probes. Detecting these weak, broad features requires background sources with a well-characterized far-UV continuum and data of very high quality. However, a recent Hubble Space Telescope/Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) observation of the z = 0.03 blazar Mrk 421 allows us to perform a metal-independent search for WHIM gas with unprecedented precision. The data have high signal-to-noise ratio (S/N 50 per ~20 km s–1 resolution element) and the smooth, power-law blazar spectrum allows a fully parametric continuum model. We analyze the Mrk 421 sight line for BLA absorbers, particularly for counterparts to the proposed O VII WHIM systems reported by Nicastro et al. based on Chandra/Low Energy Transmission Grating observations. We derive the Lyα profiles predicted by the X-ray observations. The S/N of the COS data is high (S/N 25 pixel-1), but much higher S/N can be obtained by binning the data to widths characteristic of the expected BLA profiles. With this technique, we are sensitive to WHIM gas over a large (N H, T) parameter range in the Mrk 421 sight line. We rule out the claimed Nicastro et al. O VII detections at their nominal temperatures (T ~ 1-2 × 106 K) and metallicities (Z = 0.1 Z ☉) at 2σ level. However, WHIM gas at higher temperatures and/or higher metallicities is consistent with our COS non-detections.
    The Astrophysical Journal 11/2011; 743(1):18. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) is a moderate-resolution spectrograph with unprecedented sensitivity that was installed into the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in May 2009, during HST Servicing Mission 4 (STS-125). We present the design philosophy and summarize the key characteristics of the instrument that will be of interest to potential observers. For faint targets, with flux F_lambda ~ 1.0E10-14 ergs/s/cm2/Angstrom, COS can achieve comparable signal to noise (when compared to STIS echelle modes) in 1-2% of the observing time. This has led to a significant increase in the total data volume and data quality available to the community. For example, in the first 20 months of science operation (September 2009 - June 2011) the cumulative redshift pathlength of extragalactic sight lines sampled by COS is 9 times that sampled at moderate resolution in 19 previous years of Hubble observations. COS programs have observed 214 distinct lines of sight suitable for study of the intergalactic medium as of June 2011. COS has measured, for the first time with high reliability, broad Lya absorbers and Ne VIII in the intergalactic medium, and observed the HeII reionization epoch along multiple sightlines. COS has detected the first CO emission and absorption in the UV spectra of low-mass circumstellar disks at the epoch of giant planet formation, and detected multiple ionization states of metals in extra-solar planetary atmospheres. In the coming years, COS will continue its census of intergalactic gas, probe galactic and cosmic structure, and explore physics in our solar system and Galaxy.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2011; 744(1). · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: [Abridged.] We present multiwavelength observations of the black hole binary system, A0620-00. Using the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope, we have obtained the first FUV spectrum of A0620-00. The observed spectrum is flat in the FUV and very faint (with continuum fluxes \simeq 1e - 17 ergs/cm^2/s/A). We compiled the dereddened, broadband spectral energy distribution of A0620-00 and compared it to previous SEDs as well as theoretical models. The SEDs show that the source varies at all wavelengths for which we have multiple samples. Contrary to previous observations, the optical-UV spectrum does not continue to drop to shorter wavelengths, but instead shows a recovery and an increasingly blue spectrum in the FUV. We created an optical-UV spectrum of A0620-00 with the donor star contribution removed. The non-stellar spectrum peaks at \simeq3000 {\deg}A. The peak can be fit with a T=10,000 K blackbody with a small emitting area, probably originating in the hot spot where the accretion stream impacts the outer disk. However, one or more components in addition to the blackbody are needed to fit the FUV upturn and the red optical fluxes in the optical-UV spectrum. By comparing the mass accretion rate determined from the hot spot luminosity to the mean accretion rate inferred from the outburst history, we find that the latter is an order of magnitude smaller than the former, indicating that \sim90% of the accreted mass must be lost from the system if the predictions of the disk instability model and the estimated interoutburst interval are correct. The mass accretion rate at the hot spot is 10^5 the accretion rate at the black hole inferred from the X-ray luminosity. To reconcile these requires that outflows carry away virtually all of the accreted mass, a very low rate of mass transfer from the outer cold disk into the inner hot region, and/or radiatively inefficient accretion.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2011; 743. · 6.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Thermally-broadened Lya absorbers (BLAs) offer an alternate method to using highly-ionized metal absorbers (OVI, OVII, etc.) to probe the warm-hot intergalactic medium (WHIM, T=10^5-10^7 K). Until now, WHIM surveys via BLAs have been no less ambiguous than those via far-UV and X-ray metal-ion probes. Detecting these weak, broad features requires background sources with a well-characterized far-UV continuum and data of very high quality. However, a recent HST/COS observation of the z=0.03 blazar Mrk421 allows us to perform a metal-independent search for WHIM gas with unprecedented precision. The data have high signal-to-noise (S/N~50 per ~20 km/s resolution element) and the smooth, power-law blazar spectrum allows a fully-parametric continuum model. We analyze the Mrk421 sight line for BLA absorbers, particularly for counterparts to the proposed OVII WHIM systems reported by Nicastro et al. (2005a,b) based on Chandra/LETG observations. We derive the Lya profiles predicted by the X-ray observations. The signal-to-noise ratio of the COS data is high (S/N~25 per pixel), but much higher S/N can be obtained by binning the data to widths characteristic of the expected BLA profiles. With this technique, we are sensitive to WHIM gas over a large (N_H, T) parameter range in the Mrk421 sight line. We rule out the claimed Nicastro et al. OVII detections at their nominal temperatures (T~1-2x10^6 K) and metallicities (Z=0.1 Z_sun) at >2 sigma level. However, WHIM gas at higher temperatures and/or higher metallicities is consistent with our COS non-detections.
    08/2011;

Publication Stats

264 Citations
168.06 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2012–2014
    • University of Colorado
      Denver, Colorado, United States
  • 2004–2013
    • University of Colorado at Boulder
      • • Department of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences
      • • Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy
      Boulder, Colorado, United States
  • 2010
    • Dickinson College
      Carlisle, Pennsylvania, United States