Pseudo-three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm

Janez Kos*, Tomaž Zwitter, Rosemary Wyse, Olivier Bienaymé, James Binney, Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Kenneth Freeman, Brad K. Gibson, Gerry Gilmore, Eva K. Grebel, Amina Helmi, Georges Kordopatis, Ulisse Munari, Julio Navarro, Quentin Parker, Warren A. Reid, George Seabroke, Sanjib Sharma, Arnaud Siebert, Alessandro SivieroMatthias Steinmetz, Fred G. Watson, Mary E. K. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) are absorption lines observed in visual and near-infrared spectra of stars. Understanding their origin in the interstellar medium is one of the oldest problems in astronomical spectroscopy, as DIBs have been known since 1922. In a completely new approach to understanding DIBs, we combined information from nearly 500,000 stellar spectra obtained by the massive spectroscopic survey RAVE (Radial Velocity Experiment) to produce the first pseudo-three-dimensional map of the strength of the DIB at 8620 angstroms covering the nearest 3 kiloparsecs from the Sun, and show that it follows our independently constructed spatial distribution of extinction by interstellar dust along the Galactic plane. Despite having a similar distribution in the Galactic plane, the DIB 8620 carrier has a significantly larger vertical scale height than the dust. Even if one DIB may not represent the general DIB population, our observations outline the future direction of DIB research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)791-795
Number of pages5
Issue number6198
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2014


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