Mapping spiral structure on the far side of the Milky Way

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Abstract

Little is known about the portion of the Milky Way lying beyond the Galactic center at distances of more than 9 kiloparsec from the Sun. These regions are opaque at optical wavelengths because of absorption by interstellar dust, and distances are very large and hard to measure. We report a direct trigonometric parallax distance of kiloparsec obtained with the Very Long Baseline Array to a water maser source in a region of active star formation. These measurements allow us to shed light on Galactic spiral structure by locating the Scutum-Centaurus spiral arm as it passes through the far side of the Milky Way and to validate a kinematic method for determining distances in this region on the basis of transverse motions.

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