Letter | Published:

Structure of the local interstellar medium and the line of sight to α Oph

Naturevolume 302pages806808 (1983) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The precise physical state and spatial distribution of interstellar matter within 100 pc of the Sun has been the subject of intense speculation because of the implications its knowledge would have on interstellar medium theory1,2, soft X-ray and EUV transparency3,4 and, possibly, for very nearby objects, on solar and terrestrial evolution5,6. The general consensus holds that the local interstellar medium out to 100 pc from the Sun is exceptionally clear of any condensation of density ≥0.1 cm−3. Presumably, this is due to the effect of a supernova or stellar wind blast wave sweeping through the local interstellar medium in the relatively recent past7,8. I point out here that a surprising number of independent lines of observational evidence unambiguously imply the existence of a large, moderately dense (nH≥1 cm−3), cool (T70 K) cloud of interstellar gas lying between the Sun and α Oph, an A5V star located 16.7±0.8 pc away9 in the direction l = 32°, b = 23°.

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Author notes

    • Francesco Paresce

    Present address: Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland, 21218, USA

Affiliations

  1. Arcetri Astrophysical Observatory, Florence, Italy

    • Francesco Paresce

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https://doi.org/10.1038/302806a0

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