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[ascl:1104.014] A Correction to the Standard Galactic Reddening Map: Passive Galaxies as Standard Crayons

We present corrections to the Schlegel, Finkbeiner, Davis (SFD98) reddening maps over the Sloan Digital Sky Survey northern Galactic cap area. To find these corrections, we employ what we dub the "standard crayon" method, in which we use passively evolving galaxies as color standards by which to measure deviations from the reddening map. We select these passively evolving galaxies spectroscopically, using limits on the H alpha and O II equivalent widths to remove all star-forming galaxies from the SDSS main galaxy catalog. We find that by correcting for known reddening, redshift, color-magnitude relation, and variation of color with environmental density, we can reduce the scatter in color to below 3% in the bulk of the 151,637 galaxies we select. Using these galaxies we construct maps of the deviation from the SFD98 reddening map at 4.5 degree resolution, with 1-sigma error of ~ 1.5 millimagnitudes E(B-V). We find that the SFD98 maps are largely accurate with most of the map having deviations below 3 millimagnitudes E(B-V), though some regions do deviate from SFD98 by as much as 50%. The maximum deviation found is 45 millimagnitudes in E(B-V), and spatial structure of the deviation is strongly correlated with the observed dust temperature, such that SFD98 underpredicts reddening in regions of low dust temperature. The maps of these deviations, as well as their errors, are made available to the scientific community as supplemental correction to SFD98 at the URL below.

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