We present a phenomenological study of highly ionized, non-photospheric absorption features in high spectral resolution vacuum ultraviolet spectra of 23 hot DA white dwarfs. Prior to this study, four of the survey objects (Feige 24, REJ 0457−281, G191−B2B and REJ 1614−085) were known to possess these features. We find four new objects with multiple components in one or more of the principal resonance lines: REJ 1738+665, Ton 021, REJ 0558−373 and WD 2218+706. A fifth object, REJ 2156−546, also shows some evidence of multiple components, though further observations are required to confirm the detection. We discuss possible origins for these features including ionization of the local interstellar environment, the presence of material inside the gravitational well of the white dwarf, mass loss in a stellar wind and the existence of material in an ancient planetary nebula around the star. We propose ionization of the local interstellar medium as the origin of these features in G191−B2B and REJ 1738+665, and demonstrate the need for higher-resolution spectroscopy of the sample, to detect multiple interstellar medium velocity components and to identify circumstellar features that may lie close to the photospheric velocity
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