COS-burst: Observations of the Impact of Starburst-driven Winds on the Properties of the Circum-galactic Medium

Timothy Heckman, Sanchayeeta Borthakur, Vivienne Wild, David Schiminovich, Rongmon Bordoloi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


We report on observations made with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) using background quasi-stellar objects to probe the circum-galactic medium (CGM) around 17 low-redshift galaxies that are undergoing or have recently undergone a strong starburst (the COS-Burst program). The sightlines extend out to roughly the virial radius of the galaxy halo. We construct control samples of normal star-forming low-redshift galaxies from the COS/HST archive that match the starbursts in terms of galaxy stellar mass and impact parameter. We find clear evidence that the CGM around the starbursts differs systematically compared to the control galaxies. The Lyα, Si iii, C iv, and possibly O vi absorption lines are stronger as a function of impact parameter, and the ratios of the equivalent widths of C iv/Lyα and Si iii/Lyα are both higher than in normal star-forming galaxies. We also find that the widths and the velocity offsets (relative to v sys) of the Lyα absorption lines are significantly larger in the CGM of the starbursts, implying velocities of the absorbing material that are roughly twice the halo virial velocity. We show that these properties can be understood as a consequence of the interaction between a starburst-driven wind and the preexisting CGM. These results underscore the importance of winds driven from intensely star-forming galaxies in helping drive the evolution of galaxies and the intergalactic medium. They also offer a new probe of the properties of starburst-driven winds and of the CGM itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number151
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 10 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: halos
  • galaxies: starburst
  • quasars: absorption lines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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