Ionizing the Galaxy

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Science  05 Sep 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5331, pp. 1446-1447
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5331.1446

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Throughout the Milky Way and other galaxies, there exists a diffuse red glow given off by ionized hydrogen. The mechanism by which this diffuse ionized gas occurs is a matter of debate, as discussed in the Perspective by Reynolds. Some of the questions may be answered as sensitive new instruments acquire data about the spectroscopic properties of the faint red glow. This in turn should add to our understanding of the nature of the interstellar medium.