July 2016 • 2016A&A...591A.149M
Aims: We present the first public release of high-quality data products (DR1) from Hi-GAL, the Herschel infrared Galactic Plane Survey. Hi-GAL is the keystone of a suite of continuum Galactic plane surveys from the near-IR to the radio and covers five wavebands at 70, 160, 250, 350 and 500 μm, encompassing the peak of the spectral energy distribution of cold dust for 8 ≲ T ≲ 50 K. This first Hi-GAL data release covers the inner Milky Way in the longitude range 68° ≳ ℓ ≳ -70° in a | b | ≤ 1° latitude strip.
Methods: Photometric maps have been produced with the ROMAGAL pipeline, which optimally capitalizes on the excellent sensitivity and stability of the bolometer arrays of the Herschel PACS and SPIRE photometric cameras. It delivers images of exquisite quality and dynamical range, absolutely calibrated with Planck and IRAS, and recovers extended emission at all wavelengths and all spatial scales, from the point-spread function to the size of an entire 2°× 2° "tile" that is the unit observing block of the survey. The compact source catalogues were generated with the CuTEx algorithm, which was specifically developed to optimise source detection and extraction in the extreme conditions of intense and spatially varying background that are found in the Galactic plane in the thermal infrared.
Results: Hi-GAL DR1 images are cirrus noise limited and reach the 1σ-rms predicted by the Herschel Time Estimators for parallel-mode observations at 60'' s-1 scanning speed in relatively low cirrus emission regions. Hi-GAL DR1 images will be accessible through a dedicated web-based image cutout service. The DR1 Compact Source Catalogues are delivered as single-band photometric lists containing, in addition to source position, peak, and integrated flux and source sizes, a variety of parameters useful to assess the quality and reliability of the extracted sources. Caveats and hints to help in this assessment are provided. Flux completeness limits in all bands are determined from extensive synthetic source experiments and greatly depend on the specific line of sight along the Galactic plane because the background strongly varies as a function of Galactic longitude. Hi-GAL DR1 catalogues contain 123210, 308509, 280685, 160972, and 85460 compact sources in the five bands.