This content will become publicly available on August 1, 2024
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Author(s) / Creator(s):
- ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more »
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- The Astrophysical Journal Letters
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
More Like this
Abstract We report the discovery of six ultra-faint Milky Way satellites identified through matched-filter searches conducted using Dark Energy Camera (DECam) data processed as part of the second data release of the DECam Local Volume Exploration (DELVE) survey. Leveraging deep Gemini/GMOS-N imaging (for four candidates) as well as follow-up DECam imaging (for two candidates), we characterize the morphologies and stellar populations of these systems. We find that these candidates all share faint absolute magnitudes ( M V ≥ −3.2 mag) and old, metal-poor stellar populations ( τ > 10 Gyr, [Fe/H] < −1.4 dex). Three of these systems are more extended ( r 1/2 > 15 pc), while the other three are compact ( r 1/2 < 10 pc). From these properties, we infer that the former three systems (Boötes V, Leo Minor I, and Virgo II) are consistent with ultra-faint dwarf galaxy classifications, whereas the latter three (DELVE 3, DELVE 4, and DELVE 5) are likely ultra-faint star clusters. Using data from the Gaia satellite, we confidently measure the proper motion of Boötes V, Leo Minor I, and DELVE 4, and tentatively detect a proper-motion signal from DELVE 3 and DELVE 5; no signal is detected for Virgo II. We use these measurements to explore possible associations between the newly discovered systems and the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal, the Magellanic Clouds, and the Vast Polar Structure, finding several plausible associations. Our results offer a preview of the numerous ultra-faint stellar systems that will soon be discovered by the Vera C. Rubin Observatory and highlight the challenges of classifying the faintest stellar systems.more » « less
We present deep Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photometry of the ultra-faint dwarf (UFD) galaxies Pegasus III (Peg III) and Pisces II (Psc II), two of the most distant satellites in the halo of the Milky Way (MW). We measure the structure of both galaxies, derive mass-to-light ratios with newly determined absolute magnitudes, and compare our findings to expectations from UFD-mass simulations. For Peg III, we find an elliptical half-light radius of
( pc) and for Psc II, we measure (69 ± 8 pc) and . We do not find any morphological features that indicate a significant interaction between the two has occurred, despite their close separation of only ∼40 kpc. Using proper motions (PMs) from Gaia early Data Release 3, we investigate the possibility of any past association by integrating orbits for the two UFDs in an MW-only and a combined MW and Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) potential. We find that including the gravitational influence of the LMC is crucial, even for these outer-halo satellites, and that a possible orbital history exists where Peg III and Psc II experienced a close (∼10–20 kpc) passage about each other just over ∼1 Gyr ago, followed by a collective passage around the LMC (∼30–60 kpc) just under ∼1 Gyr ago. Considering the large uncertainties on the PMs and the restrictive priors imposed to derive them, improved PM measurements for Peg III and Psc II will be necessary to clarify their relationship. This would add to the rare findings of confirmed pairs of satellites within the Local Group.
The structure of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is very complex, in particular in the periphery that suffers more from the interactions with the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). A wealth of observational evidence has been accumulated revealing tidal tails and bridges made up of gas, stars, and star clusters. Nevertheless, a full picture of the SMC outskirts is only recently starting to emerge with a 6D phase-space map plus age and metallicity using star clusters as tracers. In this work, we continue our analysis of another outer region of the SMC, the so-called West Halo, and combined it with the previously analysed Northern Bridge. We use both structures to define the Bridge and Counter-bridge trailing and leading tidal tails. These two structures are moving away from each other, roughly in the SMC–LMC direction. The West Halo form a ring around the SMC inner regions that goes up to the background of the Northern Bridge shaping an extended layer of the Counter-bridge. Four old Bridge clusters were identified at distances larger than 8 kpc from the SMC centre moving towards the LMC, which is consistent with the SMC–LMC closest distance of 7.5 kpc when the Magellanic Bridge was formed about 150Myr ago; this shows that the Magellanic Bridge was not formed only by pulled gas, but it also removed older stars from the SMC during its formation. We also found age and metallicity radial gradients using projected distances on sky, which are vanished when we use the real 3D distances.
We confirm the existence of a second Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) star cluster, KMHK 1592, with an age that falls in the middle of the so-called LMC star cluster age gap, a long period of time (∼4–11 Gyr) where no star cluster had been uncovered, except ESO 121-SC 03. The age (8.0 ± 0.5 Gyr) and the metallicity ([Fe/H] = −1.0 ± 0.2 dex) of KMHK 1592 were derived from the fit of theoretical isochrones to the intrinsic star cluster colour–magnitude diagram sequences, which were unveiled using a robust star-by-star membership probability procedure. Because of the relative low brightness of the star cluster, deep GEMINI GMOS images were used. We discuss the pros and cons of three glimpsed scenarios that could explain the presence of both LMC age gap star clusters in the outskirts of the LMC, namely: in situ star cluster formation, capture from the Small Magellanic Cloud, or accretion of a small dwarf galaxy.
The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the closest and most studied example of an irregular galaxy. Among its principal defining morphological features, its off-centred bar and single spiral arm stand out, defining a whole family of galaxies known as the Magellanic spirals (Sm). These structures are thought to be triggered by tidal interactions and possibly maintained via gas accretion. However, it is still unknown whether they are long-lived stable structures. In this work, by combining photometry that reaches down to the oldest main sequence turn-off in the colour-magnitude diagrams (CMD, up to a distance of ∼4.4 kpc from the LMC centre) from the SMASH survey and CMD fitting techniques, we find compelling evidence supporting the long-term stability of the LMC spiral arm, dating the origin of this structure to more than 2 Gyr ago. The evidence suggests that the close encounter between the LMC and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) that produced the gaseous Magellanic Stream and its Leading Arm also triggered the formation of the LMC’s spiral arm. Given the mass difference between the Clouds and the notable consequences of this interaction, we can speculate that this should have been one of their closest encounters. These results set important constraints on the timing of LMC-SMC collisions, as well as on the physics behind star formation induced by tidal encounters.more » « less