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How Can a 3D-Map of Dust Help Measure Distances in our Milky Way?


Rix,  Hans-Walter
Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Max Planck Society;

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Rix, H.-W. (2017). How Can a 3D-Map of Dust Help Measure Distances in our Milky Way? doi:10.21036/LTPUB10369.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-F011-9
The dust in our Milky Way is the constituent of the cosmic life cycle. It is the substance from which new stars are generated and it is what stars become once they die. Unfortunately, as HANS-WALTER RIX explains in this video, the dust turns distance measurements of stars in the Milky Way into a difficult endeavor, because it dims objects and blocks light from the material behind it. In his project two common methods of distance measurement are therefore used in combination to sketch a 3D map of Milky Way dust: first the parallax, which uses the orbit character of the earth in order to check on the stars’ respective positions, and second, the calculated brightness of stars which allows for an estimate concerning the amount of dust in front of each star. The so created 3D map helps to limit errors in distance calculations due to a feasible dust exclusion, made possible by the localization of dust. The conversion of observed quantities into physical quantities thus becomes possible.