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Title: Signatures of Tidal Disruption of the Hercules Ultrafaint Dwarf Galaxy*

The Hercules ultrafaint dwarf galaxy (UFD) has long been hypothesized to be tidally disrupting, yet no conclusive evidence has been found for tidal disruption owing partly to difficulties in identifying Hercules member stars. In this work, we present a homogeneous reanalysis of new and existing observations of Hercules, including the detection of a new potential member star located ∼1° (∼1.7 kpc) west of the center of the system. In addition to measuring the line-of-sight velocity gradient, we compare predictions from dynamical models of stream formation to these observations. We report an updated velocity dispersion measurement based on 28 stars,1.90.6+0.6km s−1, which is significantly lower than previous measurements. We find that the line-of-sight velocity gradient is1.81.8+1.8km s−1kpc along the major axis of Hercules, consistent with zero within 1σ. Our dynamical models of stream formation, on the other hand, can reproduce the morphology of the Hercules UFD, specifically the misalignment between the elongation and the orbital motion direction. Additionally, these dynamical models indicate that any radial velocity gradient from tidal disruption would be too small,0.000.91+0.97km s−1kpc, to be detectable with current sample sizes. Combined with our analysis of the tidal radius evolution of the system as a function of its orbital phase, we argue that it is likely that Hercules is indeed currently undergoing tidal disruption in its extended stellar halo with a line-of-sight velocity gradient too small to be detected with current observational data sets.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
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Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Medium: X Size: Article No. 33
["Article No. 33"]
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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