skip to main content

Title: The ALFALFA Almost Dark Galaxy AGC 229101: A 2 Billion Solar Mass H i Cloud with a Very Low Surface Brightness Optical Counterpart
Abstract We present results from deep H i and optical imaging of AGC 229101, an unusual H i source detected at v helio =7116 km s −1 in the Arecibo Legacy Fast ALFA (ALFALFA) blind H i survey. Initially classified as a candidate “dark” source because it lacks a clear optical counterpart in Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) or Digitized Sky Survey 2 (DSS2) imaging, AGC 229101 has 10 9.31±0.05 M ⊙ of H i , but an H i line width of only 43 ± 9 km s −1 . Low-resolution Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) imaging and higher-resolution Very Large Array (VLA) B-array imaging show that the source is significantly elongated, stretching over a projected length of ∼80 kpc. The H i imaging resolves the source into two parts of roughly equal mass. WIYN partially populated One Degree Imager (pODI) optical imaging reveals a faint, blue optical counterpart coincident with the northern portion of the H i . The peak surface brightness of the optical source is only μ g ∼ 26.6 mag arcsec −2 , well below the typical cutoff that defines the isophotal edge of a galaxy, and its estimated stellar mass is only 10 7.32±0.33 M ⊙ , yielding an overall neutral gas-to-stellar mass ratio of M / M * = 98 − 52 + 111 . We demonstrate the extreme nature of this object by comparing its properties with those of other H i -rich sources in ALFALFA and the literature. We also explore potential scenarios that might explain the existence of AGC 229101, including a tidal encounter with neighboring objects and a merger of two dark H i clouds.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2045369 2009894 2045371 1637339
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astronomical Journal
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. We present deep HI and optical imaging of AGC 229101, an enigmatic and potentially unique source detected in the ALFALFA survey. Though it has an HI mass >109 solar masses, it is not detected in SDSS imaging, and has a very narrow HI line width. Deep follow up imaging with pODI on the WIYN 3.5m at KPNO detects a very blue, very low surface brightness optical counterpart with a stellar mass <107 solar masses, giving a gas fraction of MHI/M* in excess of 200. Low resolution WSRT HI imaging and higher resolution VLA B-array imaging reveal that AGC 229101 appears to consist of two connected HI components, with the optical counterpart associated with the peak column density in the northern component. The two components have approximately equal mass and radii, and together stretch over >80 kpc as projected on the sky. We compare the properties of AGC 229101 to other extreme HI-rich sources, and demonstrate that its properties appear to be unique relative to others sources in ALFALFA. We discuss potential explanations, including a tidal encounter between neighboring sources, a merger of two independent, almost dark sources, and gas in-fall along a filament. 
    more » « less
  2. We present VLA HI imaging of the "Almost Dark" galaxies AGC 227982, AGC 268363, and AGC 219533. Selected from the ALFALFA survey, "Almost Dark" galaxies have significant HI reservoirs but lack an obvious stellar counterpart in survey-depth ground-based optical imaging. These three HI-rich objects harbor some of the most extreme levels of suppressed star formation amongst the isolated sources in the ALFALFA catalog. Our new multi-configuration, high angular (~20") and spectral (1.7 km/s) resolution HI observations produce spatially resolved column density and velocity distribution moment maps. We compare these images to Sloan Digitized Sky Survey (SDSS) optical images. By localizing the HI gas, we identify previously unknown optical components (offset from the ALFALFA pointing center) for AGC 227982 and AGC 268363, and confirm the association with a very low surface brightness stellar counterpart for AGC 219533. Baryonic masses are derived from VLA flux integral values and ALFALFA distance estimates, giving answers consistent with those derived from ALFALFA fluxes. All three sources appear to have fairly regular HI morphologies and show evidence of ordered rotation.Support for this work was provided by NSF grant 1211683 to JMC at Macalester College. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    We present deep optical imaging and photometry of four objects classified as “Almost-Dark” galaxies in the Arecibo Legacy Fast Arecibo L-band Feed Array (ALFALFA) survey because of their gas-rich nature and extremely faint or missing optical emission in existing catalogs. They have Himasses of 107–109Mand distances of ∼9–100 Mpc. Observations with the WIYN 3.5 m telescope and One Degree Imager reveal faint stellar components with central surface brightnesses of ∼24–25magarcsec2in thegband. We also present the results of Hisynthesis observations with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. These Almost-Dark galaxies have been identified as possible tidal dwarf galaxies (TDGs) based on their proximity to one or more massive galaxies. We demonstrate that AGC 229398 and AGC 333576 likely have the low dark matter content and large effective radii representative of TDGs. They are located much farther from their progenitors than previously studied TDGs, suggesting they are older and more evolved. AGC 219369 is likely dark matter dominated, while AGC 123216 has a dark matter content that is unusually high for a TDG, but low for a normal dwarf galaxy. We consider possible mechanisms for the formation of the TDG candidates such as a traditional major merger scenario and gas ejection from a high-velocity flyby. Blind Hisurveys like ALFALFA enable the detection of gas-rich, optically faint TDGs that can be overlooked in other surveys, thereby providing a more complete census of the low-mass galaxy population and an opportunity to study TDGs at a more advanced stage of their life cycle.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has recently initiated its fifth survey generation (SDSS-V), with a central focus on stellar spectroscopy. In particular, SDSS-V's Milky Way Mapper program will deliver multiepoch optical and near-infrared spectra for more than 5 × 10 6 stars across the entire sky, covering a large range in stellar mass, surface temperature, evolutionary stage, and age. About 10% of those spectra will be of hot stars of OBAF spectral types, for whose analysis no established survey pipelines exist. Here we present the spectral analysis algorithm, ZETA-PAYNE, developed specifically to obtain stellar labels from SDSS-V spectra of stars with these spectral types and drawing on machine-learning tools. We provide details of the algorithm training, its test on artificial spectra, and its validation on two control samples of real stars. Analysis with ZETA-PAYNE leads to only modest internal uncertainties in the near-IR with APOGEE (optical with BOSS): 3%–10% (1%–2%) for T eff , 5%–30% (5%–25%) for v sin i , 1.7–6.3 km s −1 (0.7–2.2 km s −1 ) for radial velocity, <0.1 dex (<0.05 dex) for log g , and 0.4–0.5 dex (0.1 dex) for [M/H] of the star, respectively. We find a good agreement between atmospheric parameters of OBAF-type stars when inferred from their high- and low-resolution optical spectra. For most stellar labels, the APOGEE spectra are (far) less informative than the BOSS spectra of these stars, while log g , v sin i , and [M/H] are in most cases too uncertain for meaningful astrophysical interpretation. This makes BOSS low-resolution optical spectra better for stellar labels of OBAF-type stars, unless the latter are subject to high levels of extinction. 
    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We present results from an optical search for Local Group dwarf galaxy candidates associated with the Ultra-Compact High Velocity Clouds (UCHVCs) discovered by the ALFALFA neutral hydrogen survey. The ALFALFA UCHVCs are isolated, compact Hiclouds with projected sizes, velocities, and estimated Himasses that suggest they may be nearby dwarf galaxies, but that have no clear counterpart in existing optical survey data. We observed 26 UCHVCs with the WIYN 3.5 m telescope and One Degree Imager (ODI) in two broadband filters and searched the images for resolved stars with properties that match those of stars in typical dwarf galaxies at distances <2.5 Mpc. We identify one promising dwarf galaxy candidate at a distance of ∼570 kpc associated with the UCHVC AGC 268071, and five other candidates that may deserve additional follow-up. We carry out a detailed analysis of ODI imaging of a UCHVC that is close in both projected distance and radial velocity to the outer-halo Milky Way globular cluster Pal 3. We also use our improved detection methods to reanalyze images of five UCHVCs that were found to have possible optical counterparts during the first phase of the project, and confirm the detection of a possible stellar counterpart to the UCHVC AGC 249525 at an estimated distance of ∼2 Mpc. We compare the optical and Hiproperties of the dwarf galaxy candidates to the results from recent theoretical simulations that model satellite galaxy populations in group environments, as well as to the observed properties of galaxies in and around the Local Group.

    more » « less