Variable Na i absorption toward ρ leonis: Biased neutral formation in the diffuse interstellar medium?

J. T. Lauroesch*, David M. Meyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

We present multiepoch KPNO coudé feed telescope observations of interstellar Na I and Ca II absorption toward the bright star ρ Leo. Comparisons of the Na I profiles observed over a period of 8 yr reveal significant temporal variations in the Na I column in at least one component, implying that there is "structure" at scales on the order of the proper motion (∼12 AU). Archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph observations of the C I fine-structure excitation in the variable component suggest that the density is ≲20 cm-3, significantly lower than the densities inferred in past H I 21 cm and Na I studies. We suggest that the bulk of the trace neutral species are in the density peaks within an interstellar cloud. The patchy distribution of these species naturally gives rise to the large fluctuations seen on scales of 10-1000 AU in past temporal and binary studies. This picture predicts that the scales over which fluctuations will be observed vary as a function of the ionization rate of a species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L123-L126
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume591
Issue number2 II
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 10 2003

Keywords

  • ISM: Clouds
  • ISM: structure
  • Stars: individual (HD 91316)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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