Glossary term: Interstellar extinction

Description: Interstellar extinction is attributed to interstellar matter made up of gas and sub-micron sized dust particles. Interstellar dust has a much larger effect on starlight as compared to the gas particles. Huge lanes of dust and gas in the Milky Way can be observed with the naked eye as gaps between the faint glow of millions of stars. Extinction makes observations of regions with lots of gas and dust difficult. Extinction is generally higher at shorter wavelengths making astronomical objects appear redder (reddening). This variation due to wavelength means that astronomers often use longer wavelengths such as infrared or submillimeter light to study dust-enshrouded regions such as star forming regions.

Related Terms:

See this term in other languages

Term and definition status: This term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".