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

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Science  15 Aug 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6198, pp. 791-795
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253171

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Clues to a mystery with RAVE results

An unknown interloper systematically picks off light from galactic sources, snatching at specific wavelengths ranging from the ultraviolet to the infrared. The cause of what astronomers term diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs) still evades identification. Kos et al. combined nearly 500,000 stellar spectra from the RAVE survey to make a telling map that may clue us in further. This pseudo–three-dimensional map shows the distribution of the carrier that absorbs light at 862 nm, and it closely follows a separate map of interstellar dust, but with a significantly larger scale height in the Galactic plane. Though this is only one DIB of many, this analysis sets a path for the future study of others.

Science, this issue p. 791