AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 47. The Interstellar Medium I
Poster, Tuesday, January 7, 2003, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall AB

[Previous] | [Session 47] | [Next]

[47.03] Probing the Diffuse Interstellar Medium at AU Scales

J. T. Lauroesch, D. M. Meyer (Northwestern Univ.)

Recently, there have been a number of serendipitous discoveries of temporal variations in interstellar absorption lines indicative of significant structure on AU scales. In an effort to better quantify the fraction of gas in these smallest scale structures, we have obtained multi-epoch, high spectral resolution observations of interstellar NaI, CaII, CH, CH+, and CN absorption lines toward a number of stars using the KPNO Coude Feed telescope. Our NaI survey has followed 27 stars for 2 to 7 years, and probed scales of 1-40 AU. To date, we have identified no variable components for the 11 stars in our sample with projected motions of less than 10 AU, while we have identified at least 3 variable components toward the 16 stars with projected motions greater than 10 AU. Following the suggestion by Pan, Federman, and Welty (2001, ApJ, 558, L105) that CN may be a particularly useful tracer of density variations, we have begun to search for temporal fluctuations in the strength of the CN lines. So far we have found no compelling evidence for temporal variations in any sightline, although our sample size is still small. For example, we have recently obtained very high S/N ratio spectra towards the star zeta Oph, and find no variations in the strength of the R(0), R(1), and P(1) lines of the 3874 CN (0,0) band at the 0.1 mA level. The corresponding limits on the variation in the column densities depend upon the details of the component model, but suggest that the total CN column has changed by less than 5 percent over a period of 10 years, or a projected motion of approximately 40 AU. We will discuss these results in the context of interstellar turbulence models for the formation of small scale structure.

[Previous] | [Session 47] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #4
© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.