Mapping the Milky Way bulge at high resolution [...] (Schultheis et al.)

Vol. 566
In section 5. Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations

Mapping the Milky Way bulge at high resolution: the 3D dust extinction, CO and X factor maps

by M. Schultheis, B.Q. Chen, B.W. Jiang, et al., A&A 566, A120


Although we live inside a galaxy, we know more about the distribution of the dense and dusty interstellar medium of nearby galaxies than that of our own. Schultheis et al. here use the VVV near-infrared survey together with the Besançon stellar population synthesis model of the Milky Way to construct the highest resolution 3D extinction map of the inner Galaxy to date. The map has a resolution of 6 arcmin and traces dust extinction up to 10 kpc along the Galactic plane and up to 30 magnitudes of visual extinction (about 3 mag in Ak). The authors find a large amount of material in front of the Galactic bar, specifically, between 5-7 kpc. Knowing the dust distribution in the Milky Way will provide an additional way to interpret molecular line data, in particular toward the Galactic center and will help better characterize the stellar population of the Galactic bulge.