An Extragalactic H I cloud with no optical counterpart?

V. A. Kilborn, L. Staveley-Smith, M. Marquarding, R. L. Webster, D. F. Malin, G. D. Banks, R. Bhathal, W. J. G. De Blok, P. J. Boyce, M. J. Disney, M. J. Drinkwater, R. D. Ekers, K. C. Freeman, B. K. Gibson, P. A. Henning, H. Jerjen, P. M. Knezek, B. Koribalski, R. F. Minchin, J. R. MouldT. Oosterloo, R. M. Price, M. E. Putman, S. D. Ryder, E. M. Sadler, I. Stewart, F. Stootman, A. E. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


We report the discovery, from the H I Parkes All-Sky Survey (HIPASS), of an isolated cloud of neutral hydrogen, which we believe to be extragalactic. The H I mass of the cloud (HIPASS J1712-64) is very low, 1.7 × 10⁷ M⊙, using an estimated distance of ~3.2 Mpc. Most significantly, we have found no optical companion to this object to very faint limits [μ(B) ~ 27 mag arcsec⁻²]. HIPASS J1712-64 appears to be a binary system similar to, but much less massive than, H I 1225+01 (the Virgo H I cloud) and has a size of at least 15 kpc. The mean velocity dispersion measured with the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) is only 4 km s⁻¹ for the main component and, because of the weak or nonexistent star formation, possibly reflects the thermal line width (T < 2000 K) rather than bulk motion or turbulence. The peak column density for HIPASS J1712-64, from the combined Parkes and ATCA data, is only 3.5 × 10¹⁹ cm⁻², which is estimated to be a factor of 2 below the critical threshold for star formation. Apart from its significantly higher velocity, the properties of HIPASS J1712-64 are similar to the recently recognized class of compact high-velocity clouds. We therefore consider the evidence for a Local Group or Galactic origin, although a more plausible alternative is that HIPASS J1712-64 was ejected from the interacting Magellanic Cloud–Galaxy system at perigalacticon ~2 × 10⁸ yr ago.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1342-1350
Number of pages9
JournalThe Astronomical journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • galaxies : formation
  • galaxies : irregular
  • radio emission lines


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