Enlightening the Universe behind the Milky Way bulge I. Target selection of VVV bulge galaxies

Fernanda Duplancic, Sol Alonso, Georgina Coldwell, Daniela Galdeano, Dante Minniti, Julia Fernandez, Valeria Mesa, Noelia R. Perez, Luis Pereyra, Franco Pavesich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context. The location of the Solar System complicates the detection extragalactic sources beyond the Milky Way plane. The optical observations are hampered in the so-called zone of avoidance (ZOA), where stellar crowding and Galactic absorption are severe. Observations at longer wavelengths are needed in order to discover new background galaxies and complete the census in the ZOA. Aims. The goal of this work is to identify galaxies behind the Milky Way bulge using near-infrared (NIR) data from the VISTA Variables in Vía Láctea (VVV) survey. Methods. To this end, we made use of different VISTA Science Archive (VSA) tools in order to extract relevant information from more than 32 billion catalogued sources in the VVV bulge region. We find that initial photometric restriction on sources from the VSA vvvSource table combined with restrictions on star–galaxy separation parameters obtained from Source Extractor is a successful strategy for achieving acceptable levels of contamination (60%) and high completeness (75%) in the construction of a galaxy target sample. To remove contaminating Galactic sources from the initial target sample, our methodology also incorporates a visual inspection of false-colour RGB images, a crucial quality control carried out following a specifically defined procedure. Results. Under this methodology, we find 14 480 galaxy candidates in the VVV bulge region, making this sample the largest catalogue to date in the ZOA. Moreover, these new sources provide a fresh picture of the Universe hidden behind the curtain of stars, dust, and gas in the unexplored Milky Way bulge region. Conclusions. The results from this work further demonstrate the potential of the VVV/VVVX survey to find and study a large number of galaxies and extragalactic structures obscured by the Milky Way, expanding our knowledge of the Universe in this challenging and impressive region of the sky.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA153
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume682
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • galaxies: photometry
  • galaxies: statistics
  • Galaxy: bulge
  • infrared: galaxies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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