Evaluating the morphology of the local interstellar medium: using new data to distinguish between multiple discrete clouds and a continuous medium.
REDFIELD S. and LINSKY J.L.
Abstract (from CDS):
Ultraviolet and optical spectra of interstellar gas along the lines of sight to nearby stars have been interpreted by Redfield & Linsky and previous studies as a set of discrete warm, partially ionized clouds each with a different flow vector, temperature, and metal depletion. Recently, Gry & Jenkins proposed a fundamentally different model consisting of a single cloud with nonrigid flows filling space out to 9 pc from the Sun that they propose better describes the local ISM. Here we test these fundamentally different morphological models against the spatially unbiased Malamut et al. spectroscopic data set, and find that the multiple cloud morphology model provides a better fit to both the new and old data sets. The detection of three or more velocity components along the lines of sight to many nearby stars, the presence of nearby scattering screens, the observed thin elongated structures of warm interstellar gas, and the likely presence of strong interstellar magnetic fields also support the multiple cloud model. The detection and identification of intercloud gas and the measurement of neutral hydrogen density in clouds beyond the Local Interstellar Cloud could provide future morphological tests.