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Title: Kinematics and Metallicity of Red Giant Branch Stars in the Northeast Shelf of M31*

We obtained Keck/DEIMOS spectra of 556 individual red giant branch stars in four spectroscopic fields spanning 13−31 projected kpc along the northeast (NE) shelf of M31. We present the first detection of a complete wedge pattern in the space of projected M31-centric radial distance versus line-of-sight velocity for this feature, which includes the returning stream component of the shelf. This wedge pattern agrees with expectations of a tidal shell formed in a radial merger and provides strong evidence in favor of predictions of Giant Stellar Stream (GSS) formation models in which the NE shelf originates from the second orbital wrap of the tidal debris. The observed concentric wedge patterns of the NE, west (W), and southeast (SE) shelves corroborate this interpretation independently of the models. We do not detect a kinematical signature in the NE shelf region corresponding to an intact progenitor core, favoring GSS formation models in which the progenitor is completely disrupted. The shelf’s photometric metallicity ([Fe/H]phot) distribution implies that it is dominated by tidal material, as opposed to the phase-mixed stellar halo or the disk. The metallicity distribution ([Fe/H]phot= −0.42 ± 0.01) also matches the GSS, and consequently the W and SE shelves, further supporting a more » direct physical association between the tidal features.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
The Astronomical Journal
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 20
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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