Lallement, R., Snowden, S., Kuntz, K. D., Dame, T. M., Koutroumpa, D., Grenier, I., and Casandjian, J. M. 2016. "On the distance to the North Polar Spur and the local CO-H2 factor." Astronomy and Astrophysics 595:A131. https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201629453
Aims: Most models identify the X-ray bright North Polar Spur (NPS) with a hot interstellar (IS) bubble in the Sco-Cen star-forming region at ?130 pc. An opposite view considers the NPS as a distant structure associated with Galactic nuclear outflows. Constraints on the NPS distance can be obtained by comparing the foreground IS gas column inferred from X-ray absorption to the distribution of gas and dust along the line of sight. Absorbing columns toward shadowing molecular clouds simultaneously constrain the CO-H2 conversion factor. Methods: We derived the columns of X-ray absorbing matter NHabs from spectral fitting of dedicated XMM-Newton observations toward the NPS southern terminus (lII ? 29°, bII ? 5 to 11°). The distribution of the IS matter was obtained from absorption lines in new stellar spectra, 3D dust maps, and emission data, including high spatial resolution CO measurements recorded for this purpose. Results: NHabs varies from ?4.3 to ?1.3 × 1021 cm-2 along the 19 fields. Relationships between X-ray brightness, absorbing column, and hardness ratio demonstrate a brightness increase with latitude that is governed by increasing absorption. The comparison with absorption data and local and large-scale dust maps rules out an NPS source near-side closer than 300 pc. The correlation between NHabs and the reddening increases with the sightline length from 300 pc to 4 kpc and is the tightest with Planck t353 GHz-based reddening, suggesting a much larger distance. N(H)/E(B-V)t ? 4.1 × 1021 cm-2 mag-1, close to Fermi-Planck determinations. NHabs absolute values are compatible with HI-CO clouds at -5 = VLSR = 25 to 45 km s-1 and an NPS potentially far beyond the Local Arm. A shadow cast by a b = 9° molecular cloud constrains XCO in that direction to =1.0 × 1020 cm-2 K-1 km-1 s. The average XCO over the fields is =0.75 × 1020 cm-2 K-1 km-1 s. Based on observations obtained with XMM-Newton, an ESA science mission with instruments and contributions directly funded by ESA Member States and NASA.Based on data obtained using the télescope Bernard Lyot at Observatoire du Pic du Midi, CNRS and Université Paul Sabatier, France.