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Astron. Astrophys. 354, 67-76 (2000)

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The Galactic warp in OB stars from Hipparcos

R. Drimmel, R.L. Smart and M.G. Lattanzi

Osservatorio Astronomico di Torino, Strada Osservatorio 20, 10025 Pino Torinese, Italy

Received 24 July 1998 / Accepted 16 November 1999


The kinematics of distant OB stars perpendicular to the Galactic plane, inferred from proper motions in the Hipparcos catalogue, are analysed and compared to the kinematic signature that would be induced by a long-lived Galactic warp. Previously we reported that the kinematics of the OB stars toward the anticenter were inconsistent with the assumption of a long-lived warp (Smart et al. 1998), showing negative systematic motions as opposed to the expected positive motions. Using a larger sample of OB stars, improved distances, and a more accurate model for the uncertainties, we confirm our previous result for a larger range of galactocentric radii.

However, we note that the new model for errors in the photometric distances reveal an important bias that causes the observed systematic vertical motions to be smaller than their true values. Using synthetic catalogues we investigate the effect of this bias on the systematic vertical motions in conjunction with the possibility of a smaller warp amplitude and a warp precession rate, both of which can also lead to smaller systematic motions. Taken together these three effects can work to produce negative observed systematic vertical motions, similar to those detected in the data, though only with both excessively high precession rates ([FORMULA]) and very large photometric errors (1 magnitude).

Key words: Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics – Galaxy: structure

Send offprint requests to: drimmel@to.astro.it

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

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