May 2002 STScI Astrophysics of Life paper: ``Galactic Environment of the Sun
and Stars: Interstellar and Interplanetary Material'' ;
and paper download
(where the figures must be downloaded separately and are in jpg instead of postscript).
New visualization of the
showing the motions of
(a) the Sun through the Local Standard of Rest (LSR, yellow
arrow, based on Dehnen and Binney 1998 Hipparcos data);
LSR motion of the cluster of local interstellar clouds (dark blue arrow, from Frisch, Grodnicki,
Welty, ApJ, 2002); and
(c) the LSR motion of the interstellar cloud
surrounding the solar system (light blue arrow, also known as the Local Interstellar Cloud, or
PC, from Frisch, Grodnicki, and Welty, ApJ, 2002).
The radius of this figure is 300 pc, and galactic coordinates are plotted.
The CO cloud distribution is based on Dame et al. 1987 ApJ; the distribution of
diffuse clouds is based on the color excess data of Lucke (1978).
Note that the distribution of nearby interstellar matter is dominated by
the Gould's Belt feature, which is tilted by about 18 degrees with respect
to the plane of the galaxy. The Scorpius-Centaurus
association is shown (about 300 deg), and the
position of Geminga is plotted (about 200 deg, above the "u").
Note that the Sun has been immersed in the vacuum of the
Local Bubble during the period of time that humanity
developed on Earth (e.g. see Frisch, 1993, ApJ, or the
Astrobiology paper above), and appears to have emerged into the
interstellar material outflow from the Scorpius-Centaurus association
during the past approximate 2,000 to 100,000 years (see my article,
Frisch, Science magazine, volume 265, page 1423, 1994).
With thanks to graphics artist Nicolas Berry.
Search for astronomy papers by author at the ADS
or at astro-ph archives
A few of my papers (list outdated)
The Velocity Distribution of the Nearby Interstellar Gas;
The Ionization of the Nearby Interstellar Gas
Dust in the Local Interstellar Wind.
The Interstellar Probe: A spacecraft to probe the galactic environment of the Sun. See web sites at
Jet Propulsion Center and
Marshall Space Flight Center
Learn about the
Interstellar Medium, and see some of the
Data from which we gain our knowledge.
Visualization of the
Local Interstellar Cloud and
at the Astronomy Picture of the Day
web site. Other Visualizations of Local Interstellar Matter.
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