Journal Article

Distance limits to intermediate- and high-velocity clouds*

J. V. Smoker, A. J. Fox and F. P. Keenan

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 415, issue 2, pages 1105-1118
Published in print August 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Distance limits to intermediate- and high-velocity clouds*

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We present optical spectra of 403 stars and quasi-stellar objects in order to obtain distance limits towards intermediate- and high-velocity clouds (IHVCs), including new Fibre-fed Extended Range Optical Spectrograph (FEROS) observations plus archival ELODIE, FEROS, High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) and Ultraviolet and Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) data. The non-detection of Ca ii K interstellar (IS) absorption at a velocity of −130 to −60 km s−1 towards HDE 248894 (d∼ 3 kpc) and HDE 256725 (d∼ 8 kpc) in data at signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) > 450 provides a new firm lower distance limit of 8 kpc for the anti-centre shell HVC. Similarly, the non-detection of Ca ii K IS absorption towards HD 86248 at S/N ∼ 500 places a lower distance limit of 7.6 kpc for Complex EP, unsurprising since this feature is probably related to the Magellanic System. The lack of detection of Na i D at S/N = 35 towards Mrk 595 puts an improved upper limit for the Na i column density of log (NNaD <) 10.95 cm−2 towards this part of the Cohen Stream where Ca ii was detected by Wakker et al. Absorption at ∼−40 km s−1 is detected in Na i D towards the Galactic star PG 0039+049 at S/N = 75, placing a firm upper distance limit of 1 kpc for the intermediate-velocity cloud south (IVS), where a tentative detection had previously been obtained by Centurión et al. Ca ii K and Na i D absorption is detected at −53 km s−1 towards HD 93521, which confirms the upper distance limit of 2.4 kpc for part of the IV arch complex obtained using the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) data by Danly. Towards HD 216411 in Complex H a non-detection in Na D towards gas with log() = 20.69 cm−2 puts a lower distance limit of 6.6 kpc towards this HVC complex. Additionally, Na i D absorption is detected at −43.7 km s−1 in the star HD 218915 at a distance of 5.0 kpc in gas in the same region of the sky as Complex H. Finally, the Na i/Ca ii and Ca ii/H i ratios of the current sample are found to lie in the range observed for previous studies of IHVCs.

Keywords: stars: early-type; ISM: abundances; ISM: clouds; ISM: general; ISM: structure

Journal Article.  7502 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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