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  1. Abstract

    Stellar kinematics and metallicity are key to exploring formation scenarios for galactic disks and halos. In this work, we characterized the relationship between kinematics and photometric metallicity along the line of sight to M31's disk. We combined optical Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys photometry, from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury survey, with Keck/DEIMOS spectra, from the Spectroscopic and Photometric Landscape of Andromeda’s Stellar Halo survey. The resulting sample of 3512 individual red giant branch stars spans 4–19 projected kpc, making it a useful probe of both the disk and inner halo. We separated these stars into disk and halo populations, by modeling the line-of-sight velocity distributions as a function of position across the disk region, where ∼73% stars have a high likelihood of belonging to the disk and ∼14% to the halo. Although stellar halos are typically thought to be metal-poor, the kinematically identified halo contains a significant population of stars (∼29%) with disk-like metallicity ([Fe/H]phot∼ −0.10). This metal-rich halo population lags the gaseous disk to a similar extent as the rest of the halo, indicating that it does not correspond to a canonical thick disk. Its properties are inconsistent with those of tidal debris originating from themore »Giant Stellar Stream merger event. Moreover, the halo is chemically distinct from the phase-mixed component previously identified along the minor axis (i.e., away from the disk), implying contributions from different formation channels. These metal-rich halo stars provide direct chemodynamical evidence in favor of the previously suggested “kicked-up” disk population in M31's inner stellar halo.

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  2. Abstract We construct a catalog of star clusters from Hubble Space Telescope images of the inner disk of the Triangulum Galaxy (M33) using image classifications collected by the Local Group Cluster Search, a citizen science project hosted on the Zooniverse platform. We identify 1214 star clusters within the Hubble Space Telescope imaging footprint of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury: Triangulum Extended Region (PHATTER) survey. Comparing this catalog to existing compilations in the literature, 68% of the clusters are newly identified. The final catalog includes multiband aperture photometry and fits for cluster properties via integrated light spectral energy distribution fitting. The cluster catalog’s 50% completeness limit is ∼1500 M ☉ at an age of 100 Myr, as derived from comprehensive synthetic cluster tests.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  3. Abstract

    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 amore »direct physical association between the tidal features.

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  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  5. Abstract We use deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging to derive a distance to the Virgo Cluster ultradiffuse galaxy (UDG) VCC 615 using the tip of the red giant branch (TRGB) distance estimator. We detect 5023 stars within the galaxy, down to a 50% completeness limit of F814W ≈ 28.0, using counts in the surrounding field to correct for contamination due to background sources and Virgo intracluster stars. We derive an extinction-corrected F814W tip magnitude of m tip , 0 = 27.19 − 0.05 + 0.07 , yielding a distance of d = 17.7 − 0.4 + 0.6 Mpc. This places VCC 615 on the far side of the Virgo Cluster ( d Virgo = 16.5 Mpc), at a Virgocentric distance of 1.3 Mpc and near the virial radius of the main body of Virgo. Coupling this distance with the galaxy’s observed radial velocity, we find that VCC 615 is on an outbound trajectory, having survived a recent passage through the inner parts of the cluster. Indeed, our orbit modeling gives a 50% chance the galaxy passed inside the Virgo core ( r < 620 kpc) within the past gigayear, although very close passages directly through the cluster center ( rmore »< 200 kpc) are unlikely. Given VCC 615's undisturbed morphology, we argue that the galaxy has experienced no recent and sudden transformation into a UDG due to the cluster potential, but rather is a long-lived UDG whose relatively wide orbit and large dynamical mass protect it from stripping and destruction by the Virgo cluster tides. Finally, we also describe the serendipitous discovery of a nearby Virgo dwarf galaxy projected 90″ (7.2 kpc) away from VCC 615.« less
  6. Abstract We present deep Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging of five faint dwarf galaxies associated with the nearby spiral NGC 253 (D ≈ 3.5 Mpc). Three of these are newly discovered dwarf galaxies, while all five were found in the Panoramic Imaging Survey of Centaurus and Sculptor, a Magellan+Megacam survey to identify faint dwarfs and other substructures in resolved stellar light around massive galaxies outside of the Local Group. Our HST data reach ≳3 magnitudes below the tip of the red giant branch for each dwarf, allowing us to derive their distances, structural parameters, and luminosities. All five systems contain mostly old, metal-poor stellar populations (age ∼12 Gyr, [M/H] ≲ −1.5) and have sizes ( r h ∼ 110–3000 pc) and luminosities ( M V ∼ −7 to −12 mag) largely consistent with Local Group dwarfs. The three new NGC 253 satellites are among the faintest systems discovered beyond the Local Group. We also use archival H i data to place limits on the gas content of our discoveries. Deep imaging surveys such as our program around NGC 253 promise to elucidate the faint end of the satellite luminosity function and its scatter across a range of galaxy masses, morphologies,more »and environments in the decade to come.« less
  7. Abstract

    We measure the spatially resolved recent star formation history (SFH) of M33 using optical images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury: Triangulum Extended Region (PHATTER) survey. The area covered by the observations used in this analysis covers a de-projected area of ∼38 kpc2and extends to ∼3.5 and ∼2 kpc from the center of M33 along the major and semimajor axes, respectively. We divide the PHATTER optical survey into 2005 regions that measure 24 arcsec, ∼100 pc, on a side and fit color–magnitude diagrams for each region individually to measure the spatially resolved SFH of M33 within the PHATTER footprint. There are significant fluctuations in the SFH on small spatial scales and also galaxy-wide scales that we measure back to about 630 Myr ago. We observe a more flocculent spiral structure in stellar populations younger than about 80 Myr, while the structure of the older stellar populations is dominated by two spiral arms. We also observe a bar in the center of M33, which dominates at ages older than about 80 Myr. Finally, we find that the mean star formation rate (SFR) over the last 100 Myr within the PHATTER footprint ismore »0.32 ± 0.02 Myr−1. We measure a current SFR (over the last 10 Myr) of 0.20 ± 0.03 Myr−1. This SFR is slightly higher than previous measurements from broadband estimates, when scaled to account for the fraction of the D25 area covered by the PHATTER survey footprint.

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  8. Abstract

    Triangulum (M33) is a low-mass, relatively undisturbed spiral galaxy that offers a new regime in which to test models of dynamical heating. In spite of its proximity, M33's dynamical heating history has not yet been well-constrained. In this work, we present the TREX Survey, the largest stellar spectroscopic survey across the disk of M33. We present the stellar disk kinematics as a function of age to study the past and ongoing dynamical heating of M33. We measure line-of-sight velocities for ∼4500 disk stars. Using a subset, we divide the stars into broad age bins using Hubble Space Telescope and Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope photometric catalogs: massive main-sequence stars and helium-burning stars (∼80 Myr), intermediate-mass asymptotic branch stars (∼1 Gyr), and low-mass red giant branch stars (∼4 Gyr). We compare the stellar disk dynamics to that of the gas using existing Hi, CO, and Hαkinematics. We find that the disk of M33 has relatively low-velocity dispersion (∼16 km s−1), and unlike in the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, there is no strong trend in velocity dispersion as a function of stellar age. The youngest disk stars are as dynamically hot as the oldest disk stars and are dynamically hotter than predicted bymore »most M33-like low-mass simulated analogs in Illustris. The velocity dispersion of the young stars is highly structured, with the large velocity dispersion fairly localized. The cause of this high-velocity dispersion is not evident from the observations and simulated analogs presented here.

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  10. Abstract We present a study of the stellar populations of globular clusters (GCs) in the Virgo Cluster core with a homogeneous spectroscopic catalog of 692 GCs within a major-axis distance R maj = 840 kpc from M87. We investigate radial and azimuthal variations in the mean age, total metallicity, [Fe/H], and α -element abundance of blue (metal-poor) and red (metal-rich) GCs using their co-added spectra. We find that the blue GCs have a steep radial gradient in [Z/H] within R maj = 165 kpc, with roughly equal contributions from [Fe/H] and [ α /Fe], and flat gradients beyond. By contrast, the red GCs show a much shallower gradient in [Z/H], which is entirely driven by [Fe/H]. We use GC-tagged Illustris simulations to demonstrate an accretion scenario where more massive satellites (with more metal- and α -rich GCs) sink further into the central galaxy than less massive ones, and where the gradient flattening occurs because of the low GC occupation fraction of low-mass dwarfs disrupted at larger distances. The dense environment around M87 may also cause the steep [ α /Fe] gradient of the blue GCs, mirroring what is seen in the dwarf galaxy population. The progenitors of red GCs havemore »a narrower mass range than those of blue GCs, which makes their gradients shallower. We also explore spatial inhomogeneity in GC abundances, finding that the red GCs to the northwest of M87 are slightly more metal-rich. Future observations of GC stellar population gradients will be useful diagnostics of halo merger histories.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023