The Circumgalactic Medium in Massive Halos

  • Hsiao-Wen ChenEmail author
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 430)


This chapter presents a review of the current state of knowledge on the cool (T ∼ 104 K) halo gas content around massive galaxies at z ≈ 0. 2–2. Over the last decade, significant progress has been made in characterizing the cool circumgalactic gas in massive halos of M h  ≈ 1012–14 M at intermediate redshifts using absorption spectroscopy. Systematic studies of halo gas around massive galaxies beyond the nearby universe are made possible by large spectroscopic samples of galaxies and quasars in public archives. In addition to accurate and precise constraints for the incidence of cool gas in massive halos, detailed characterizations of gas kinematics and chemical compositions around massive quiescent galaxies at z ≈ 0. 5 have also been obtained. Combining all available measurements shows that infalling clouds from external sources are likely the primary source of cool gas detected at \(d\gtrsim 100\) kpc from massive quiescent galaxies. The origin of the gas closer in is currently less certain, but SNe Ia driven winds appear to contribute significantly to cool gas found at d < 100 kpc. In contrast, cool gas observed at \(d\lesssim 200\) kpc from luminous quasars appears to be intimately connected to quasar activities on parsec scales. The observed strong correlation between cool gas covering fraction in quasar host halos and quasar bolometric luminosity remains a puzzle. Combining absorption-line studies with spatially resolved emission measurements of both gas and galaxies is the necessary next step to address remaining questions.


Star Formation Dark Matter Halo Early Type Galaxy Massive Galaxy Massive Halo 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The author wishes to thank Sean Johnson, Rebecca Pierce, Michael Rauch, and Fakhri Zahedy for providing helpful input and comments. In preparing this review, the author has made use of NASA’s Astrophysics Data System Bibliographic Services.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Kavli Institute for Cosmological PhysicsThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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