Ca II K observations of QSOs in the line-of-sight to the Magellanic Bridge

Francis Keenan, Jonathan Smoker, H.M.A. Thompson, J.-K. Lee, I. Hunter, C. Bruns, E. Muller, N. Lehner

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8 Citations (Scopus)


We describe medium-resolution spectroscopic observations taken with the ESO Multi-Mode Instrument (EMMI) in the CaII K line (lambda air = 3933.661 angstrom) towards 7 QSOs located in the line-of-sight to the Magellanic Bridge. At a spectral resolution R =lambda/Delta lambda = 6000, five of the sightlines have a signal-to-noise ( S/N) ratio of similar to 20 or higher. Definite Ca absorption due to Bridge material is detected towards 3 objects, with probable detection towards two other sightlines. Gas-phase CaII K Bridge and Milky Way abundances or lower limits for the all sightlines are estimated by the use of Parkes 21-cm H. emission line data. These data only have a spatial resolution of 14 arcmin compared with the optical observations which have milli-arcsecond resolution. With this caveat, for the three objects with sound CaII K detections, we find that the ionic abundance of CaII K relative to HI, A = log( N( CaK)/ N( HI)) for low- velocity Galactic gas ranges from - 8.3 to - 8.8 dex, with HI column densities varying from 3- 6 x 10(20) cm(-2). For Magellanic Bridge gas, the values of A are similar to 0.5 dex higher, ranging from similar to- 7.8 to - 8.2 dex, with N( HI) = 1- 5 x 1020 cm(-2). Higher values of A correspond to lower values of N( HI), although numbers are small. For the sightline towards B 0251 - 675, the Bridge gas has two different velocities, and in only one of these is CaII tentatively detected, perhaps indicating gas of a different origin or present-day characteristics ( such as dust content), although this conclusion is uncertain and there is the possibility that one of the components could be related to the Magellanic Stream. Higher signal-to-noise CaII K data and higher resolution H. data are required to determine whether A changes with N( HI) over the Bridge and if the implied difference in the metalicity of the two Bridge components towards B 0251-675 is real.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)525-533
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science


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