Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 451, 1396-1412 (2015/August-1)
Early-type stars observed in the ESO UVES Paranal Observatory Project - V. Time-variable interstellar absorption.
McEVOY C.M., SMOKER J.V., DUFTON P.L., SMITH K.T., KENNEDY M.B., KEENAN F.P., LAMBERT D.L., WELTY D.E. and LAUROESCH J.T.
Abstract (from CDS):
The structure and properties of the diffuse interstellar medium (ISM) on small scales, sub-au to 1 pc, are poorly understood. We compare interstellar absorption lines, observed towards a selection of O- and B-type stars at two or more epochs, to search for variations over time caused by the transverse motion of each star combined with changes in the structure in the foreground ISM. Two sets of data were used: 83 VLT/UVES spectra with approximately 6 yr between epochs and 21 McDonald observatory 2.7-m telescope echelle spectra with 6-20 yr between epochs, over a range of scales from ∼ 0-360 au. The interstellar absorption lines observed at the two epochs were subtracted and searched for any residuals due to changes in the foreground ISM. Of the 104 sightlines investigated with typically five or more components in Nai D, possible temporal variation was identified in five UVES spectra (six components), in CaII, Ca i and/or Nai absorption lines. The variations detected range from 7 percent to a factor of 3.6 in column density. No variation was found in any other interstellar species. Most sightlines show no variation, with 3σ upper limits to changes of the order 0.1-0.3 dex in CaII and Nai. These variations observed imply that fine-scale structure is present in the ISM, but at the resolution available in this study, is not very common at visible wavelengths. A determination of the electron densities and lower limits to the total number density of a sample of the sightlines implies that there is no striking difference between these parameters in sightlines with, and sightlines without, varying components.
© 2015 The Authors Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society (2015)
stars: early-type - ISM: abundances - ISM: clouds - ISM: general - ISM: structure
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