Mapping the stellar age of the Milky Way bulge with the VVV III. High resolution reddening map

Surot, F; Valenti, E; Gonzalez, OA; Zoccali, M; Sokmen, E; Hidalgo, S. L.; Minniti, D

Keywords: galaxy: bulge, galaxy: structure


The detailed study of the Galactic bulge stellar population necessarily requires an accurate representation of the interstellar extinction particularly toward the Galactic plane and center, where the severe and differential reddening is expected to vary on sub-arcmin scales. Although recent infrared surveys have addressed this problem by providing extinction maps across the whole Galactic bulge area, dereddened color-magnitude diagrams near the plane and center appear systematically undercorrected, suggesting the need for higher resolutions. These undercorrections affect any stellar study sensitive to color (e.g. star formation history analysis via color-magnitude diagram fitting), either making them inaccurate or limiting them to small low/stable extinction windows where this value is better constrained. We aim at providing a high-resolution (2 arcmin to ~10 arcsec) color excess map for the VVV bulge area, in J-Ks color. We use the MW-BULGE-PSFPHOT catalogs sampling ~300 deg² across the Galactic bulge (|l| < 10° and -10° < b < 5°) to isolate a sample of red clump and red giant branch stars, for which we calculate average J-Ks color in a fine spatial grid in $(l, b)$ space. We obtain a E(J-Ks) map spanning the VVV bulge area of roughly 300 deg², with the equivalent to a resolution between ~1 arcmin for bulge outskirts (l < −6°) to below 20 arcsec within the central |l| < 1°, and below 10 arcsec for the innermost area (|l| < 1° and |b| < 3°).

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Editorial: EDP Sciences