AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 139 The Ionized ISM: Observations and Theory
Poster, Thursday, January 13, 2005, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[139.01] The First Detection of Diffuse Interstellar [OII] Emission from the Milky Way using Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy

E.J. Mierkiewicz, F.L. Roesler (University of Wisconsin-Madison), J.M. Harlander (St. Cloud State University), R.J. Reynolds, K.P. Jaehnig (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Using a newly developed Spatial Heterodyne Spectrometer (SHS), we have achieved the first detection of diffuse [OII] 372.6 nm and 372.9 nm emission lines from the warm (10,000 K), low density (0.1 cm-3) ionized component of our Galaxy's interstellar medium (WIM). These [OII] lines are a principal coolant for this wide spread, photoionized gas and are a potential tracer of variations in the gas temperature resulting from unidentified interstellar heating processes that appear to be acting within the Galaxy's disk and halo. We have also detected numerous, weak airglow lines, including terrestrial [OII] emission.

In our SHS system, Fizeau fringes of wavenumber-dependent spatial frequency are produced by a Michelson interferometer modified by replacing the return mirrors with diffraction gratings. These fringes are recorded on a position sensitive detector and Fourier transformed to recover a spectrum over a limited range centered at the grating Littrow wavenumber. SHS combines interferometric and field-widening gains to achieve sensitivities much larger than conventional grating instruments of similar size and resolving power, and comparable to the Wisconsin H\alpha Mapper (WHAM) Fabry-Perot, but in the near UV where WHAM cannot observe.

Our early results confirm the superb performance of the SHS technique for measurements of spatially extended faint emissions, including the first detection of [OII] emission lines extending out to 20 degrees from the Galactic equator in the longitude range of 110 to 150 degrees. [OII] intensities range from tens of Rayleighs near the Galactic plane to less than one Rayleigh at high Galactic latitudes. The [OII] line profiles clearly show structure indicating emission along the lines of sight from both local interstellar gas and more distant gas in the Perseus spiral arm. Preliminary line ratio comparisons with WHAM [NII] (658.4 nm) and H\alpha (656.3 nm) observations confirm the utility of the [OII] observations as a temperature diagnostic for the WIM. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation through grants AST-0138228 and AST-0138197. The Wisconsin H\alpha Mapper is funded by the National Science Foundation through grant AST- 0204973.

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