B. Y. Welsh1, R. Lallement2, J.-L. Vergely3 and S. Raimond2
Space Sciences Laboratory, University of California, 7 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
2 Université Versailles St-Quentin; CNRS/INSU, LATMOS-IPSL, BP 3, 91371 Verrières-le-Buisson, France
3 ACRI-ST, BP 234, 06504 Sofia-Antipolis, France
Accepted: 11 December 2009
Aims. We present new high resolution (R > 50 000) absorption measurements of the NaI doublet (5889-5895 Å) along 482 nearby sight-lines, in addition to 807 new measurements of the CaII K (3933 Å) absorption line. We have combined these new data with previously reported measurements to produce a catalog of absorptions towards a total of 1857 early-type stars located within 800 pc of the Sun. Using these data we have determined the approximate 3-dimensional spatial distribution of neutral and partly ionized interstellar gas density within a distance-cube of 300 pc from the Sun.
Methods. All newly recorded spectra were analyzed by means of a multi-component line profile-fitting program, in most cases using simultaneous fits to the line doublets. Normalized absorption profiles were fitted by varying the velocity, doppler width and column density for all intervening interstellar clouds. The resulting total column densities were then used in conjunction with the Hipparcos distances of the target stars to construct inversion maps of the 3D spatial density distribution of the NaI and CaII bearing gas.
Results. A plot of the equivalent width of NaI versus distance reveals a wall of neutral gas at ~80 pc that can be associated with the boundary wall to the central rarefied Local Cavity region. In contrast, a similar plot for the equivalent width of CaII shows no sharply increasing absorption at 80 pc, but instead we observe a slowly increasing value of CaII equivalent width with increasing sight-line distance sampled. Low values for the volume density of NaI ( < 10-9 cm-3) are generally found within 50 pc of the Sun, whereas values in the range 10-8 > > 10-10 cm-3 are found for sight-lines with distance >300 pc. Both high and low values of the volume density of CaII () are found for sight-lines <30 pc, dependent on whether local gas cloudlets are encountered. For distances >100 pc a value of ~ 10-9 cm-3 is typical for most sight-lines, indicating that the distribution of CaII bearing gas is fairly uniform throughout the general ISM. Our three maps of the 3D spatial distribution of local neutral NaI absorption extend and improve upon the accuracy of similar maps initially presented by Lallement et al. (2003, A&A, 411, 447), with many new neutral interstellar gas features (such as low neutral density gas tunnels) in the local interstellar medium now being revealed for the first time. The maps of the 3D distribution of partially ionized CaII gas are the first of their kind to be presented and exhibit many spatial similarities to those of their equivalent NaI absorption maps. A major finding from both sets of maps is that the low density Local Cavity region is surrounded by a highly fragmented wall of higher density NaI and CaII gas clouds. The appearance of this broken boundary may be linked to the purported explosive origin of the Local Cavity. Maps of the distribution of CaII gas density reveal the presence of many partially ionized low density cloudlets that reside within the Local Cavity, and their newly derived 3D spatial contours confirm previous observations of the local gas by Redfield & Linsky (2008, ApJ, 673, 283). Both the NaI and CaII maps suggest that the Local Cavity may contain several low density sub-cavities that are surrounded by thin filaments of neutral and/or partially ionized gas. However, further observations will be required to confirm the existence of a collection of cell-like interstellar cavities. The new maps also reveal several sight-lines where CaII absorption is high and the corresponding NaI absorption is low, and vice-versa. Such regions are probably influenced by the effects of the local stellar ionization field which can significantly affect the observed NaI/CaII column density ratio. Plots of this ratio as a function of distance for stars located near to the galactic plane show values in the range 0.1 to 1.0 for sight-lines with distances <80 pc. However, ratio values of between 0.5 and 20 are typical for more distant sight-lines. The highest values of the NaI/CaII ratio are found towards ~ 150 in the direction of the Taurus dark clouds, with ratio values in the narrower range of 0.1 to 5 being found in galactic quadrant 3.
Key words: solar neighborhood / ISM: atoms / ISM: clouds
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