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Science. 2014 Aug 15;345(6198):791-5. doi: 10.1126/science.1253171.

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

Author information

  • 1Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Jadranska 19, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. janez.kos@fmf.uni-lj.si.
  • 2Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Jadranska 19, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
  • 3Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
  • 4Observatoire astronomique de Strasbourg, Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, 11 rue de l'Université, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.
  • 5Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3NP, UK.
  • 6Sydney Institute for Astronomy, School of Physics A28, University of Sydney, NSW 2008, Australia.
  • 7Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
  • 8Chair, Computational Astrophysics, Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE, UK.
  • 9Institute of Astronomy, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK.
  • 10Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Mönchhofstraßße 12-14, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
  • 11Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Post Office Box 800, NL-9700 AV Groningen, Netherlands.
  • 12Instituto Nazionale di Astrofisica Astronomical Observatory of Padova, 36012 Asiago (VI), Italy.
  • 13University of Victoria, Victoria BC, Canada V8P 5C2.
  • 14Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. Centre for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. Australian Astronomical Observatory, Post Office Box 915, North Ryde, NSW 1670, Australia.
  • 15Department of Physics and Astronomy, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia. Centre for Astronomy, Astrophysics and Astrophotonics, Macquarie University, Sydney, NSW 2109, Australia.
  • 16Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St Mary, Dorking RH5 6NT, UK.
  • 17Department of Physics and Astronomy, Padova University, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 2, I-35122 Padova, Italy. Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany.
  • 18Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam, Germany.
  • 19Australian Astronomical Observatory, Post Office Box 915, North Ryde, NSW 1670, Australia.

Abstract

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.

PMID:
25124434
DOI:
10.1126/science.1253171
[PubMed]
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