Weighing the Low-Redshift Lyman-alpha ForestIn 2003-2004, our FUSE research group prepared several major surveys of the amount of baryonic matter in the intergalactic medium (IGM), using the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite. These surveys include measurements of the Lyman-alpha absorption line of neutral hydrogen (H I), the far-ultraviolet (1032,1038 Angstrom) doublet of highly ionized oxygen ( O VI), the higher Lyman-series lines (Ly-beta, Ly-gamma, etc) of H I, and the 977 Angstrom line of c III. As an overview, our FUSE spectroscopic studies, taken together with data from the Hubble Space Telescope, show that approximately 30% of the normal matter is contained in intergalactic hydrogen gas clouds (the Lyman-alpha forest). Another 5-10% resides in hotter gas at temperatures of 10(exp 5) to 10(exp 6) K, visible in 0 VI and C III absorption. Along with the matter attributed to galaxies, we have now accounted for approximately HALF of all the baryonic matter in the universe. Where is the other half? That matter my exist in even hotter gas, invisible through the ultraviolet absorption lines, but perhaps detectable through X-ray absorption lines of more highly ionized oxygen and neon.
Shull, Mike (Colorado Univ. Boulder, CO, United States)