Title

Metallicity and Ionization in High-Velocity Cloud Complex C

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

3-1-2007

Description

We analyze HST and FUSE ultraviolet spectroscopic data for 11 sight lines passing through the infalling high-velocity cloud (HVC) Complex C. These sight lines pass through regions with H I column densities in the range N H I = 1018.1 -1020.1 cm-2. From [OI/HI] abundances, we find that Complex C metallicities range from 0.09 to 0.29 Z⊙, with a column density weighted mean of 0.13 Z ⊙. Nitrogen (N I) is underabundant by factors of (0.01 -0.07)(N/H)⊙, significantly less than oxygen relative to solar abundances. This pattern suggests nucleosynthetic enrichment by Type II SNe, consistent with an origin in the Galactic fountain or infalling gas produced in winds from Local Group galaxies. The range of metallicity and its possible (2 σ) dependence on NH I could indicate some mixing of primordial material with enriched gas from the Milky Way, but the mixing mechanism is unclear. We also investigate the significant highly ionized component of Complex C, detected in C IV, Si IV, and O VI, but not in N V. High-ion column density ratios show little variance and are consistent with shock ionization or ionization at interfaces between Complex C and a hotter surrounding medium. Evidence for the former mechanism is seen in the Mrk 876 line profiles, where the offset in line centroids between low and high ions suggests a decelerating bow shock.

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