The Hot Intergalactic Medium-Galaxy Connection: Two Strong O VI Absorbers in the Sight Line Toward PG 1211+143

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We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) and Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) spectra of the QSO PG 1211+143 (zem = 0.081) and a galaxy survey of the surrounding field. This sight line shows two strong intergalactic absorption systems at cz ≃ 15,300 and 19,300 km s-1. This sight line addresses the nature and origin of the O VI absorbers and their connection to galaxies. We explore the relationship of these absorbers to the nearby galaxies and compare them to other O VI-bearing absorbers in diverse environments. At 15,300 km s-1, we find four distinct H I components and associated C II, C III, C IV, Si II, Si III, Si IV, N V, and O VI, lying near a spiral-dominated galaxy group with a bright member galaxy 137 h 70-1 kpc from the sight line. The observed ions of C, Si, and N are likely to be photoionized, but the O VI is more consistent with collisional ionization. The ion ratios in this absorber resemble the highly ionized Galactic high-velocity clouds (HVCs); it may also trace the hot intragroup medium gas or the unbound wind of an undiscovered dwarf galaxy. At 19,300 km s-1, we find five H I components and associated C III, Si III, and collisionally ionized O VI lying 146 h70-1 kpc from an isolated galaxy. The properties of the O VI-bearing gas are consistent with an origin in strong shocks between low-metallicity gas (≥2%-6% solar) and one or more of the warm photoionized components. It is likely that these absorbers are related to the nearby galaxies, perhaps by outflows or gas stripped from unseen satellite galaxies by interactions. However, we cannot reject completely the hypothesis that they reside in the same large-scale structure in which the galaxies are embedded but are otherwise not directly related.