EDP Sciences
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Volume 430, Number 1, January IV 2005
Page(s) 129 - 135
Section Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20040092

A&A 430, 129-135 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20040092

The visibility of the Galactic bulge in optical surveys. Application to the Gaia mission

A. C. Robin1, C. Reylé1, S. Picaud1 and M. Schultheis1, 2

1  CNRS UMR6091, Observatoire de Besançon, BP 1615, 25010 Besançon Cedex, France
    e-mail: [annie.robin;celine;picaud]@obs-besancon.fr
2  CNRS UMR7095, Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis bld Arago, 75014 Paris, France
    e-mail: mathias@obs-besancon.fr, schulthe@iap.fr

(Received 16 January 2004 / Accepted 13 September 2004 )

The bulge is a region of the Galaxy which is of tremendous interest for understanding Galaxy formation. However, measuring photometry and kinematics in it raises several inherent issues, like high extinction in the visible and severe crowding. Here we attempt to estimate the problem of the visibility of the bulge at optical wavelengths, where large CCD mosaics allow to easily cover wide regions from the ground, and where future astrometric missions are planned. Assuming the Besançon Galaxy model and high resolution extinction maps, we estimate the stellar density as a function of longitude, latitude and apparent magnitude and we deduce the possibility of reaching and measuring bulge stars. The method is applied to three Gaia instruments, the BBP and MBP photometers, and the RVS spectrograph. We conclude that, while in the BBP most of the bulge will be accessible, in the MBP there will be a small but significant number of regions where bulge stars will be detected and accurately measured in crowded fields. Assuming that the RVS spectra may be extracted in moderately crowded fields, the bulge will be accessible in most regions apart from the strongly absorbed inner plane regions, because of high extinction, and in low extinction windows like the Baades's window where the crowding is too severe.

Key words: Galaxy: stellar content -- Galaxy: structure -- Galaxy: bulge

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© ESO 2005