EDP Sciences
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Volume 412, Number 1, December II 2003
Page(s) 105 - 120
Section Stellar clusters and associations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20031478

A&A 412, 105-120 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20031478

Does transparent hidden matter generate optical scintillation?

M. Moniez

Laboratoire de l'Accélérateur Linéaire, IN2P3-CNRS, Université de Paris-Sud, BP 34, 91898 Orsay Cedex, France
(Received 17 February 2003 / Accepted 4 September 2003)

Stars twinkle because their light goes through the atmosphere. The same phenomenon is expected when the light of extra-galactic stars goes through a Galactic - disk or halo - refractive medium. Because of the large distances involved here, the length and time scales of the optical intensity fluctuations resulting from the wave distortions are accessible to current technology. In this paper, we discuss the different possible scintillation regimes and we focus on the so-called strong diffractive regime that is likely to produce large intensity contrasts. The critical relationship between the source angular size and the intensity contrast in optical wavelengths is also discussed in detail. We propose to monitor small extra-galactic stars every ~10 s to search for intensity scintillation produced by molecular hydrogen clouds. We discuss means to discriminate such hidden matter signals from the foreground effects on light propagation. Appropriate observation of the scintillation process described here should allow one to detect column density stochastic variations in Galactic molecular clouds of the order of ~ $3\times 10^{-5}\,{\rm g/cm^2}$, that is $10^{19}\,{\rm molecules/cm^2}$ per ~ $10\,000\,{\rm km}$ transverse distance.

Key words: cosmology: dark matter -- Galaxy: disk -- Galaxy: halo -- ISM: clouds -- ISM: molecules

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