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S.D. Price, M.P. Egan (AFRL/VSBC), D.R. Mizuno, T.A. Kuchar, S.J. Carey (Boston College)
The Galactic Plane Survey by the SPIRIT III telescope aboard the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) imaged the entire Galactic plane for |b| < 5 degrees in five mid-infrared passbands between 4 and 26 \mum. The resolution of the survey is ~18 arcseconds and the sensitivity is comparable to or better than previous mid-infrared surveys. The MSX Galactic plane survey is the highest resolution full survey of the plane in the mid-infrared. In anticipation of the upcoming public release of the data, we present an overview of the results of this survey in the form of a three-color movie of the plane. The three colors correspond to MSX band A (6.8 - 10.8 \mum = blue), the sum of MSX bands C and D (11.1 - 16.9 \mum = green) and band E (18.2 - 25.1 \mum = red). Visible in the movie are numerous rings, filaments and shells due to star forming regions, supernova remants, circumstellar shells and planetary nebula. Also distinguishable are patches which are dark in the mid-infrared. These objects are now known to be large, cold molecular cores. The entire plane is pervaded by diffuse emission in Band A most likely due to cationic PAHs. Changes in dust properties and excitation are evident in the color variations color in the movie. In addition to being a unique dataset, this data will undoubtably be useful in interpretating ISO investigations in the plane and for preparing future observations with SIRTF and SOFIA.