Connection between the Circumgalactic Medium and the Interstellar Medium of Galaxies: Results from the COS-GASS Survey

Sanchayeeta Borthakur, Timothy Heckman, Jason Tumlinson, Rongmon Bordoloi, Christopher Thom, Barbara Catinella, David Schiminovich, Romeel Davé, Guinevere Kauffmann, Sean M. Moran, Amelie Saintonge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a study exploring the nature and properties of the circumgalactic medium (CGM) and its connection to the atomic gas content in the interstellar medium (ISM) of galaxies as traced by the H i 21 cm line. Our sample includes 45 low-z (0.026-0.049) galaxies from the GALEX Arecibo SDSS Survey (Galaxy Evolution Explorer/Arecibo/Sloan Digital Sky Survey). Their CGM was probed via absorption in the spectra of background quasi-stellar objects at impact parameters of 63-231 kpc. The spectra were obtained with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph aboard the Hubble Space Telescope. We detected neutral hydrogen (Lyα absorption lines) in the CGM of 92% of the galaxies. We find that the radial profile of the CGM as traced by the Lyα equivalent width can be fit as an exponential with a scale length of roughly the virial radius of the dark matter halo. We found no correlation between the orientation of the sightline relative to the galaxy’s major axis and the Lyα equivalent width. The velocity spread of the circumgalactic gas is consistent with that seen in the atomic gas in the ISM. We find a strong correlation (99.8% confidence) between the gas fraction (M(H i)/M⋆) and the impact-parameter-corrected Lyα equivalent width. This is stronger than the analogous correlation between corrected Lyα equivalent width and specific star formation rate (SFR)/M⋆ (97.5% confidence). These results imply a physical connection between the H i disk and the CGM, which is on scales an order of magnitude larger. This is consistent with the picture in which the H i disk is nourished by accretion of gas from the CGM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Oct 2015


  • galaxies: halos
  • galaxies: ISM
  • quasars: absorption lines


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