Optical Cartography of the Northern Galactic Plane
Farnhill, Hywel John
Counting stars as a means of studying the structure of the Milky Way has a long history, which has progressed significantly with the undertaking of large-area surveys. Photographic surveys have been supplanted with the advent of CCD technology by digital surveys, which provide improved data quality allowing better calibration and fainter limits to be probed reliably. The INT/WFC Photometric H Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS) provides broad-band r0 and i0 photometry down to 20th magnitude at Galactic latitudes jbj < 5 . In this work I make use of the opportunity that IPHAS photometry provides to create stellar number density maps of the Northern Galactic Plane. I produce preliminary maps which are used to identify and exclude poor quality data during the preparation of the second data release of the survey (DR2). By crossmatching IPHAS against the AAVSO Photometric All-Sky Survey (APASS), I derive transformations between the two photometric systems, and measure the per-IPHAS- field magnitude shifts needed to bring the two surveys in line before a global calibration can be applied. Repeating the crossmatching approach between IPHAS and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), I derive transformations between the two surveys and assess their agreement before and after global photometric calibration, in order to gauge the improvement achieved. The effects of incompleteness begin to affect the fainter end of any photometric survey as a consequence of confusion and sensitivity limits. I present the application of artificial source insertion on every broad-band IPHAS DR2 image in order to measure the impact of incompleteness across the entire survey. These measurements are used to construct incompleteness-corrected density maps down to magnitude limits of r0 . 19 and i0 . 18 at an angular resolution of 1 arcminute. These maps represent a unique data product which has applications in studies of Galactic structure and extinction. I perform a cluster search on the i0-band density map, which in addition to returning 71 known clusters, identifies 29 overdensities unassociated with any known clusters. I compare the stellar densities given by my maps to those in simulated versions of the Milky Way generated by models of Galactic population synthesis. I examine the Gaia Universe Model Snapshot (GUMS), a catalogue which predicts the sky as may be observed by the Gaia mission. In order to make meaningful comparisons between GUMS and IPHAS I determine transformations between the two photometric surveys. The results of the comparison are mixed. I also make use of the 2003 Besan con model of Galactic population synthesis to generate catalogues of synthetic photometry along three sightlines in the IPHAS footprint in order to test different 3D extinction prescriptions. The lowest Galactic longitudes (` 30 ) prove to be particularly challenging to emulate, suggesting 3D mapping of optical extinction in the Galactic Plane is not yet a mature art. The main problem appears to be one of underprediction of the obscuration.