A rocket-borne observation of the far-infrared sky at high Galactic latitude

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astronomy

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Far Infrared Radiation, Galactic Structure, Infrared Astronomy, Milky Way Galaxy, Rocket-Borne Instruments, Sky Brightness, Telescopes, Cosmic Dust, Extraterrestrial Radiation, Infrared Cirrus (Astronomy), Interstellar Extinction, Interstellar Matter, Molecular Clouds, Starburst Galaxies

Scientific paper

We have measured the surface brightness of the far-infrared sky at lambda = 134, 154, and 186 micrometers at high Galactic latitude using a liquid-He-cooled, rocket-borne telescope. The telescope scanned over a 5 deg x 20 deg region which includes infrared cirrus, high-latitude molecular clouds, the starburst galaxy M82, and the H I Hole in Ursa Major, a region with uniquely low H I column density. The measured brightness at 134, 154, and 186 micrometers is well correlated with the 100 micrometers brightness measured by IRAS and, in regions excluding molecular clouds, with H I column density. The spectrum of the component correlated with H I is well fitted by a gray-body spectrum with a temperature of 16.4 (+2.3/-1.8) K, assuming an emissivity proportional to lambda-2. Assuming a constant far-infrared dust emissivity per hydrogen nucleus, the ratio of the H2 column density to the velocity-integrated CO intensity in the high-latitude molecular cloud is NH2/Wco = (1.6 +/- 0.3) x 1020/sq cm/(K km/s). The residual brightness after subtracting the emission correlated with H I column density is lambda Ilambda(154 micrometers) = (1.4 +/- 0.6) x 10-12 W/sq cm/sr, yielding an upper limit to the far-infrared extragalactic background radiation of lambda Ilambda(154 micrometers) is less than 2.6 x 10-12 W/sq cm/sr.

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