COBE diffuse infrared background experiment observations of Galactic reddening and stellar populations

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astronomy

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Galactic Structure, Infrared Astronomy, Interstellar Extinction, Milky Way Galaxy, Stellar Color, Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite, Cosmic Dust, Galactic Evolution, Interstellar Matter, Near Infrared Radiation, Spaceborne Astronomy

Scientific paper

This Letter describes the results of an initial study of Galactic extinction and the colors of Galactic stellar populations in the near-IR using the Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment (DIRBE) aboard the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) spacecraft. The near-IR reddening observed by DIRBE is consistent with the extinction law tabulated by Rieke & Lebofsky (1985). The distribution of dust and stars in most of the first and fourth quadrants of the Galactic plane (0 deg less than l less than 90 deg, and 270 deg less than l less than 360 deg, respectively) can be modeled as a stellar background source seen through up to approximately 4 mag of extinction at 1.25 micrometers. The unreddened near-IR colors of the Galactic disk are similar to those of late-K and M giants. The Galactic bulge exhibits slightly bluer colors in the 2.2-3.5 micrometers range, as noted by Terndrup et al. (1991). Star-forming regions exhibit colors that indicate the presence of a approximately 900 K continuum produced by hot dust or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contributing at wavelengths as short as 3.5 micrometers.

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