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Poster communications

Search for turbulent gas through interstellar scintillation

Abstract : Stars twinkle because their light propagates through the atmosphere. The same phenomenon is expected at a longer time scale when the light of remote stars crosses an interstellar molecular cloud, but it has never been observed at optical wavelength. We describe a new way to search for turbulent matter in the Galactic discs and halo, through the diffractive and refractive effects on the light of background stars. We show that in favorable cases, the light of a background star can be subject to stochastic fluctuations of the order of a few percent at a characteristic time scale of a few minutes. We have searched for scintillation induced by molecular gas in visible dark nebulae as well as by hypothetical halo clumpuscules of cool molecular hydrogen (H2_He) during two nights, using the NTT telescope and the IR SOFI detector. Amongst a ew thousands of monitored stars, we found one light-curve that is compatible with a strong scintillation effect through a turbulent structure in the B68 nebula. Because no candidate were found toward the SMC, we are able to establish upper limits on the contribution of gas clumpuscules to the Galactic halo mass. We show that the short time-scale monitoring of a few 10^6 star x hour in the visible band with a >4 m telescope and a fast readout camera should allow one to interestingly quantify or constrain the contribution of turbulent molecular gas to the Galactic halo. Ref. A&A 525, A108 (2011).
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Submitted on : Monday, February 13, 2012 - 3:07:13 PM
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M. Moniez, R. Ansari, F. Habibi, S. Rahvar. Search for turbulent gas through interstellar scintillation. R.E.M. Griffin, R.J. Hanisch, R. Seaman. IAU Symposium 285 "New Horizons in Time Domain Astronomy", Sep 2011, Oxford, United Kingdom. Cambridge University Press, 7, pp.376-378, 2011, ⟨10.1017/S1743921312001123⟩. ⟨in2p3-00669597⟩