||Infrared surveys are essential for an unbiased and unobscured study of the distribution of stars and star formation in our Galaxy. The SIRTF Galactic Legacy Infrared Mid-Plane Survey Extraordinaire (GLIMPSE) will be a fully-sampled, confusion-limited survey of the inner Galaxy at 3.6, 4.5, 5.8, and 8.0 microns.
GLIMPSE will be the highest resolution, relatively unobscured, Galactic stellar survey to date, and is expected to discover thousands of bright star formation regions. This census will yield insight into the physics and statistics of star formation as a function of age and Galactic environment. GLIMPSE data can be combined with other surveys to study stars, gas, and dust in a host of environments including star formation regions, star clusters, HII regions, and molecular clouds.
Star formation regions form a well-distributed set of “test particles” with which one can map the structure of the central bar, the molecular ring, and the inner spiral arms of our Galaxy. Specifically, GLIMPSE will enable: a measurement of the stellar disk scale length, constraints on the extent of the central bar using the star formation regions at its ends, correlation of stellar content and star formation with studies of the molecular ring to determine if the Milky Way is a ringed Galaxy, and investigations to determine if stars are formed on the leading or trailing edges of spiral arms.
The GLIMPSE project will provide a star catalog and mosaicked images to the community on a short timescale, stimulating and enabling research in star formation, Galactic structure, and many other areas of Galactic astrophysics.