High-resolution absorption spectroscopy of the circumgalactic medium of the Milky Way



In this article we discuss the importance of high-resolution absorption spectroscopy for our understanding of the distribution and physical nature of the gaseous circumgalactic medium (CGM) that surrounds the Milky Way. Observational and theoretical studies indicate a high complexity of the gas kinematics and an extreme multi-phase nature of the CGM in low-redshift galaxies. High-precision absorption-line measurements of the Milky Way's gas environment thus are essential to explore fundamental parameters of circumgalactic gas in the local Universe, such as mass, chemical composition, and spatial distribution. We shortly review important characteristics of the Milky Way's CGM and discuss recent results from our multi-wavelength observations of the Magellanic Stream. Finally, we discuss the potential of studying the warm-hot phase of the Milky Way's CGM by searching for extremely weak [Fe X] λ 6374.5 Å and [Fe XIV] λ 5302.9 Å absorption in optical QSO spectra. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)