Evidence of distant spiral arms in the Galactic disk quadrant IV from VVV red clump giants

R. Kammers, R. K. Saito, E. Botan, D. Minniti, J. Alonso-García, L. C. Smith, P. W. Lucas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The discovery of new clear windows in the Galactic plane using the VVV near-IR extinction maps allows the study of the structure of the Milky Way (MW) disk. The ultimate goal of this work is to map the spiral arms in the far side of the MW, which is a relatively unexplored region of our Galaxy, using red clump (RC) giants as distance indicators. We search for near-IR clear windows located at low Galactic latitudes (|b| < 1 deg) in the MW disk using the VVV near-IR extinction maps. We have identified two new windows named VVV WIN 1607-5258 and VVV WIN 1475-5877, respectively, that complement the previously known window VVV WIN 1713-3939. We analyse the distribution of RC stars in these three clear near-IR windows and measure their number density along the line of sight. This allows us to find overdensities in the distribution and measure their distances along the line of sight. We then use the VVV proper motions in order to measure the kinematics of the RC stars at different distances. We find enhancements in the distance distribution of RC giants in all the studied windows, interpreting them as the presence of spiral arms in the MW disk. These structures are absent in the current models of synthetic population for the same MW lines of sight. We were able to trace the end of the Galactic bar, the Norma arm, as well as the Scutum-Centaurus arm in the far disk. Using the VVV proper motions, we measure the kinematics for these Galactic features, confirming that they share the bulk rotation of the Galactic disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere039
JournalPublications of the Astronomical Society of Australia
Publication statusPublished - 9 Sept 2022


  • dust, extinction
  • Galaxy: disk
  • Galaxy: structure
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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