Pseudo-three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm

Kos, J., Zwitter, T., Wyse, R., Bienayme, O., Binney, J., Bland-Hawthorn, J., Freeman, K., Gibson, Bradley Kenneth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4446-3130, Gilmore, G. et al (2014) Pseudo-three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm. Science, 345 (6198). pp. 791-795. ISSN 0036-8075

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The diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are absorption lines observed in visual and near-infrared spectra of stars. Understanding their origin in the interstellar medium is one of the oldest problems in astronomical spectroscopy, as DIBs have been known since 1922. In a completely new approach to understanding DIBs, we combined information from nearly 500,000 stellar spectra obtained by the massive spectroscopic survey RAVE (Radial Velocity Experiment) to produce the first pseudo–three-dimensional map of the strength of the DIB at 8620 angstroms covering the nearest 3 kiloparsecs from the Sun, and show that it follows our independently constructed spatial distribution of extinction by interstellar dust along the Galactic plane. Despite having a similar distribution in the Galactic plane, the DIB 8620 carrier has a significantly larger vertical scale height than the dust. Even if one DIB may not represent the general DIB population, our observations outline the future direction of DIB research.

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