Can we detect Galactic spiral arms? 3D dust distribution in the Milky Way
Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
We present a model to map the 3D distribution of dust in the Milky Way. Although dust is just a tiny fraction of what comprises the Galaxy, it plays an important role in various processes. In recent years various maps of dust extinction have been produced, but we still lack a good knowledge of the dust distribution. Our presented approach leverages line-of-sight extinctions towards stars in the Galaxy at measured distances. Since extinction is proportional to the integral of the dust density
... ards a given star, it is possible to reconstruct the 3D distribution of dust by combining many lines-of-sight in a model accounting for the spatial correlation of the dust. Such a technique can be used to infer the most probable 3D distribution of dust in the Galaxy even in regions which have not been observed. This contribution provides one of the first maps which does not show the "fingers of God" effect. Furthermore, we show that expected high precision measurements of distances and extinctions offer the possibility of mapping the spiral arms in the Galaxy.