A new near-IR window of low extinction in the Galactic plane

Minniti, Dante; Saito, Roberto K.; Gonzalez, Oscar A.; Alonso-García, Javier; Rejkuba, Marina; Barbá, Rodolfo; Irwin, Mike; Kammers, Roberto; Lucas, Phillip W.; Majaess, Daniel; Valenti, Elena
Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 616, id.A26, 6 pp. (2018).


Aims: The windows of low extinction in the Milky Way (MW) plane are rare but important because they enable us to place structural constraints on the opposite side of the Galaxy, which has hither to been done rarely. 
Methods: We use the near-infrared (near-IR) images of the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea (VVV) Survey to build extinction maps and to identify low extinction windows towards the Southern Galactic plane. Here we report the discovery of VVV WIN 1713-3939, a very interesting window with relatively uniform and low extinction conveniently placed very close to the Galactic plane. 
Results: The new window of roughly 30 arcmin diameter is located at Galactic coordinates (l, b) = (347.4, -0.4) deg. We analyse the VVV near-IR colour-magnitude diagrams in this window. The mean total near-IR extinction and reddening values measured for this window are AKs = 0.46 and E(J - Ks) = 0.95. The red clump giants within the window show a bimodal magnitude distribution in the Ks band, with peaks at Ks = 14.1 and 14.8 mag, corresponding to mean distances of D = 11.0 ± 2.4 and 14.8 ± 3.6 kpc, respectively. We discuss the origin of these red clump overdensities within the context of the MW disk structure.

Based on observations taken within the ESO VISTA Public Survey VVV, programme ID 179.B-2002