Skip navigation

Adapted from a press release of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS):

A team of international astronomers has created a detailed three-dimensional map of the dusty structure of the Milky Way, as seen from Earth’s northern hemisphere.

3D map, detail

Credit: Sale et al./IPHAS

Dust and gas, which make up the interstellar medium (ISM), fill the space between stars in galaxies. The dust in the ISM is shaped by turbulent flows that form intricate fractal structures on scales ranging from thousands of light years down to hundreds of kilometers. Rather than measuring the dust itself to create the map, the team has used observations of more than 38 million stars to estimate how much starlight has been obscured by the ISM and thus how much dust lies in our line of sight to each star. This ‘extinction’ map derives from the newly released catalog of the Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric H-alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS), the first digital survey to cover the entire northern Milky Way.

The map shows how extinction builds with distance away from the Sun (typically out to 12,000 light years or more) in any part of the surveyed northern Milky Way. The fractal nature of the ISM is visible in the map, as are large-scale features, such as star-forming molecular clouds and bubbles of ionized gas around clusters of hot stars.

Links: Full RAS press release; IPHAS homepage for map downloads (large file sizes) c/o Stuart Sale, University of Oxford.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: