The long bar as seen by the VVV survey
I. Colour–magnitude diagrams⋆
C. González-Fernández1, M. López-Corredoira2,3, E. B. Amôres4,5, D. Minniti6,7, P. Lucas8 and I. Toledo6
Departamento de Física, Ingeniería de Sistemas y Teoría de la
Señal, Universidad de Alicante,
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38206, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 SIM, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, Ed. C8. Campo Grande, 1749-016 Lisbon, Portugal
5 Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica MCTI, Rua Estados Unidos 154, 37504-364 Itajubá-MG, Brazil
6 Departamento de Astronomía y Astrofísica, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Casilla 306, Santiago, Chile
7 Vatican Observatory, V 00120 Vatican City State, Italy
8 Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane, Hatfield AL10 9AB, UK
Received: 5 June 2012
Accepted: 21 August 2012
Context. The VISTA Variable Survey (VVV) is able to map the Galaxy at l ≤ 0° with an unpaired depth (at least 3 mag deeper than 2MASS), opening new possibilities for studying the inner structure of the Milky Way.
Aims. In this paper we concentrate on the exploitation of these data to better understand the spatial disposition and distribution of the structures present in the inner Milky Way, particularly the Long Bar and its interaction with the inner disc.
Methods. To attain this, we present the Ks vs. J − Ks diagrams obtained with VVV of regions with (−20° < l < −8°, |b| < 2°). From them we derive the distribution of red clump giants with heliocentric distance as a proxy for the overall stellar structure of the Galaxy. Along with these diagrams, we analysed the distribution of photometrically selected red supergiants, in order to detect events of recent stellar formation.
Results. The observations show the presence of a clear overdensity of stars with associated recent stellar formation that we interpret as the traces of the Long Bar, and we derive an angle for it of 41° ± 5° with the Sun-Galactic centre line, touching the disc near l = 27° and l = −12°. The colour–magnitude diagrams presented here also show a lack of disc stars in several lines of sight, a fact that we associate with the truncation of the disc by the potential of this bar for RGC ≤ 5 kpc.
Key words: supergiants / infrared: stars / Galaxy: structure / Galaxy: stellar content
Appendix A is available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2012