Small-scale interstellar medium structure: The remarkable sight line toward μ crucis

David M. Meyer*, J. C. Blades

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


We present very high resolution (Δv ≈ 0.4 km s-1) observations of the interstellar Na I D and Ca II K lines toward the binary μ Cru, which consists of two B stars separated by 38.8″ at a distance of 170 pc. These observations reveal line strength variations in four velocity components, indicative of interstellar medium structure on scales less than the projected binary separation of 6600 AU (0.03 pc). The components exhibiting the greatest Na I column density variations have the narrowest line widths and the largest N(Na I)/N(Ca II) ratios. The most visually striking of these variations involves a Na I component seen at a heliocentric velocity of -8.6 km s-1 toward μ1 Cru but not at all toward μ2 Cru. This component has an appreciable column density [N(Na I) = 7 X 1010 cm-2], and it clearly exhibits hyperfine splitting with a Na I line width (b = 0.4 km s-1) indicative of a cloud temperature below 220 K. It is likely that the μ Cru variations are sampling a widespread pattern of small-scale structure in the cold diffuse interstellar gas that could easily have been missed in previous observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L179-L182
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART II
StatePublished - Jun 20 1996


  • ISM: clouds
  • ISM: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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