Variable interstellar absorption lines: a brief review
Author: Crawford, I.A.
Source: Astrophysics and Space Science, Volume 285, Numbers 3-4, 2003 , pp. 661-675(15)
I review the recent discoveries of variable interstellar absorption lines, widely taken to imply the existence of very small scale (10–100 AU) structure in the interstellar medium. Possible origins of this structure are discussed, and attention is drawn to the fact that most known examples seem to be associated with interstellar shells and bubbles of various kinds. On the other hand, in at least one case (κ Velorum), the variation appears to occur in the supposedly quiescent cold neutral medium, consistent with earlier studies of small scale structure in atomic hydrogen probed at radio wavelengths. Further work is urgently required to determine the prevalence, mode of formation, and the physical and chemical state of these enigmatic structures. Only then will their implications for our wider understanding of the interstellar medium become apparent.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: School of Earth Sciences, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HX
Publication date: January 1, 2003