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  1. Abstract

    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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  2. Abstract

    We have conducted a systematic search around the Milky Way (MW) analog NGC 253 (D= 3.5 Mpc), as a part of the Panoramic Imaging Survey of Centaurus and Sculptor (PISCeS)—a Magellan+Megacam survey to identify dwarfs and other substructures in resolved stellar light around MW-mass galaxies outside of the Local Group. In total, NGC 253 has five satellites identified by PISCeS within 100 kpc with an absoluteV-band magnitude ofMV< −7. We have additionally obtained deep Hubble Space Telescope imaging of four reported candidates beyond the survey footprint: Do III, Do IV, and dw0036m2828 are confirmed to be satellites of NGC 253, while SculptorSR is found to be a background galaxy. We find no convincing evidence for the presence of a plane of satellites surrounding NGC 253. We construct its satellite luminosity function, which is complete down toMV≲ −8 out to 100 kpc andMV≲ −9 out to 300 kpc, and compare it to those calculated for other Local Volume galaxies. Exploring trends in satellite counts and star-forming fractions among satellite systems, we find relationships with host stellar mass, environment, and morphology, pointing to a complex picture of satellite formation, and a successful model has to reproduce all of these trends.

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  3. We report discovery and characterization of a main-sequence G star orbiting a dark object with mass1.90±0.04M. The system was discovered via Gaia astrometry and has an orbital period of 731 days. We obtained multi-epoch RV follow-up over a period of 639 days, allowing us to refine the Gaia orbital solution and precisely constrain the masses of both components. The luminous star is a12,Gyr-old, low-metallicity halo star near the main-sequence turnoff (,K; ; ;M0.79M) with a highly enhanced lithium abundance. The RV mass function sets a minimum companion mass for an edge-on orbit ofM2>1.67M, well above the Chandrasekhar limit. The Gaia inclination constraint,i=68.7±1.4,deg, then implies a companion mass ofM2=1.90±0.04M. The companion is most likely a massive neutron star: the only viable alternative is two massive white dwarfs in a close binary, but this scenario is disfavored on evolutionary grounds. The system’s low eccentricity (e=0.122±0.002) disfavors dynamical formation channels and implies that the neutron star likely formed with little mass loss (1M) and with a weak natal kick (). Stronger kicks with more mass loss are not fully ruled out but would imply that a larger population of similar systems with higher eccentricities should exist. The current orbit is too small to have accommodated the neutron star progenitor as a red supergiant or super-AGB star. The simplest formation scenario – isolated binary evolution – requires the system to have survived unstable mass transfer and common envelope evolution with a donor-to-accretor mass ratio>10. The system, which we call Gaia NS1, is likely a progenitor of symbiotic X-ray binaries and long-period millisecond pulsars. Its discovery challenges binary evolution models and bodes well for Gaia’s census of compact objects in wide binaries.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  4. Abstract

    In this paper, we present a chemical and kinematic analysis of two ultrafaint dwarf galaxies (UFDs), Aquarius II (Aqu II) and Boötes II (Boo II), using Magellan/IMACS spectroscopy. We present the largest sample of member stars for Boo II (12), and the largest sample of red giant branch members with metallicity measurements for Aqu II (eight). In both UFDs, over 80% of targets selected based on Gaia proper motions turned out to be spectroscopic members. In order to maximize the accuracy of stellar kinematic measurements, we remove the identified binary stars and RR Lyrae variables. For Aqu II, we measure a systemic velocity of −65.3 ± 1.8 km s−1and a metallicity of [Fe/H] =2.570.17+0.17. When compared with previous measurements, these values display a ∼6 km s−1difference in radial velocity and a decrease of 0.27 dex in metallicity. Similarly for Boo II, we measure a systemic velocity of130.41.1+1.4km s−1, more than 10 km s−1different from the literature, a metallicity almost 1 dex smaller at [Fe/H] =2.710.10+0.11, and a velocity dispersion 3 times smaller atσvhel=2.91.2+1.6km s−1. Additionally, we derive systemic proper-motion parameters and model the orbits of both UFDs. Finally, we highlight the extremely dark-matter-dominated nature of Aqu II and compute the J-factor for both galaxies to aid searches of dark matter annihilation. Despite the small size and close proximity of Boo II, it is an intermediate target for the indirect detection of dark matter annihilation due to its low-velocity dispersion and corresponding low dark matter density.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024

    Milky Way globular clusters (GCs) display chemical enrichment in a phenomenon called multiple stellar populations (MSPs). While the enrichment mechanism is not fully understood, there is a correlation between a cluster’s mass and the fraction of enriched stars found therein. However, present-day GC masses are often smaller than their masses at the time of formation due to dynamical mass-loss. In this work, we explore the relationship between mass and MSPs using the stellar stream 300S. We present the chemical abundances of eight red giant branch member stars in 300S with high-resolution spectroscopy from Magellan/MIKE. We identify one enriched star characteristic of MSPs and no detectable metallicity dispersion, confirming that the progenitor of 300S was a GC. The fraction of enriched stars (12.5 per cent) observed in our 300S stars is less than the 50 per cent of stars found enriched in Milky Way GCs of comparable present-day mass (∼104.5 $\mathrm{\, {\rm M}_{\odot }}$). We calculate the mass of 300S’s progenitor and compare it to the initial masses of intact GCs, finding that 300S aligns well with the trend between the system mass at formation and enrichment. 300S’s progenitor may straddle the critical mass threshold for the formation of MSPs and can therefore serve as a benchmark for the stellar enrichment process. Additionally, we identify a CH star, with high abundances of s-process elements, probably accreted from a binary companion. The rarity of such binaries in intact GCs may imply stellar streams permit the survival of binaries that would otherwise be disrupted.

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  6. Abstract We describe the discovery of a solar neighborhood ( d = 468 pc) binary system with a main-sequence sunlike star and a massive noninteracting black hole candidate. The spectral energy distribution of the visible star is described by a single stellar model. We derive stellar parameters from a high signal-to-noise Magellan/MIKE spectrum, classifying the star as a main-sequence star with T eff = 5972 K, log g = 4.54 , and M = 0.91 M ⊙ . The spectrum shows no indication of a second luminous component. To determine the spectroscopic orbit of the binary, we measured the radial velocities of this system with the Automated Planet Finder, Magellan, and Keck over four months. We show that the velocity data are consistent with the Gaia astrometric orbit and provide independent evidence for a massive dark companion. From a combined fit of our spectroscopic data and the astrometry, we derive a companion mass of 11.39 − 1.31 + 1.51 M ⊙ . We conclude that this binary system harbors a massive black hole on an eccentric ( e = 0.46 ± 0.02), 185.4 ± 0.1 day orbit. These conclusions are independent of El-Badry et al., who recently reported the discovery of the same system. A joint fit to all available data yields a comparable period solution but a lower companion mass of 9.32 − 0.21 + 0.22 M ⊙ . Radial velocity fits to all available data produce a unimodal solution for the period that is not possible with either data set alone. The combination of both data sets yields the most accurate orbit currently available. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 8, 2024
  7. Abstract The ultrafaint dwarf galaxy Reticulum II was enriched by a single rare and prolific r -process event. The r -process content of Reticulum II thus provides a unique opportunity to study metal mixing in a relic first galaxy. Using multi-object high-resolution spectroscopy with VLT/GIRAFFE and Magellan/M2FS, we identify 32 clear spectroscopic member stars and measure abundances of Mg, Ca, Fe, and Ba where possible. We find 72 − 12 + 10 % of the stars are r -process-enhanced, with a mean [ Ba / H ] = − 1.68 ± 0.07 and unresolved intrinsic dispersion σ [Ba/H] <0.20. The homogeneous r -process abundances imply that Ret II’s metals are well mixed by the time the r -enhanced stars form, which simulations have shown requires at least 100 Myr of metal mixing in between bursts of star formation to homogenize. This is the first direct evidence of bursty star formation in an ultrafaint dwarf galaxy. The homogeneous dilution prefers a prompt and high-yield r -process site, such as collapsar disk winds or prompt neutron star mergers. We also find evidence from [Ba/H] and [Mg/Ca] that the r -enhanced stars in Ret II formed in the absence of substantial pristine gas accretion, perhaps indicating that ≈70% of Ret II stars formed after reionization. 
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  8. Abstract

    We present a chemodynamical study of the Grus I ultra-faint dwarf galaxy (UFD) from medium-resolution (R∼ 11,000) Magellan/IMACS spectra of its individual member stars. We identify eight confirmed members of Grus I, based on their low metallicities and coherent radial velocities, and four candidate members for which only velocities are derived. In contrast to previous work, we find that Grus I has a very low mean metallicity of 〈[Fe/H]〉 = −2.62 ± 0.11 dex, making it one of the most metal-poor UFDs. Grus I has a systemic radial velocity of −143.5 ± 1.2 km s−1and a velocity dispersion ofσrv=2.50.8+1.3km s−1, which results in a dynamical mass ofM1/2(rh)=84+12×105Mand a mass-to-light ratio ofM/LV=440250+650M/L. Under the assumption of dynamical equilibrium, our analysis confirms that Grus I is a dark-matter-dominated UFD (M/L> 80M/L). However, we do not resolve a metallicity dispersion (σ[Fe/H]< 0.44 dex). Our results indicate that Grus I is a fairly typical UFD with parameters that agree with mass–metallicity and metallicity-luminosity trends for faint galaxies. This agreement suggests that Grus I has not lost an especially significant amount of mass from tidal encounters with the Milky Way, in line with its orbital parameters. Intriguingly, Grus I has among the lowest central densities (ρ1/23.52.1+5.7×107Mkpc−3) of the UFDs that are not known to be tidally disrupting. Models of the formation and evolution of UFDs will need to explain the diversity of these central densities, in addition to any diversity in the outer regions of these relic galaxies.

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  9. Abstract

    We present the lifetime star formation histories (SFHs) for six ultrafaint dwarf (UFD;MV> − 7.0,4.9<log10(M*(z=0)/M)<5.5) satellite galaxies of M31 based on deep color–magnitude diagrams constructed from Hubble Space Telescope imaging. These are the first SFHs obtained from the oldest main-sequence turnoff of UFDs outside the halo of the Milky Way (MW). We find that five UFDs formed at least 50% of their stellar mass byz= 5 (12.6 Gyr ago), similar to known UFDs around the MW, but that 10%–40% of their stellar mass formed at later times. We uncover one remarkable UFD, Andxiii, which formed only 10% of its stellar mass byz= 5, and 75% in a rapid burst atz∼ 2–3, a result that is robust to choices of underlying stellar model and is consistent with its predominantly red horizontal branch. This “young” UFD is the first of its kind and indicates that not all UFDs are necessarily quenched by reionization, which is consistent with predictions from several cosmological simulations of faint dwarf galaxies. SFHs of the combined MW and M31 samples suggest reionization did not homogeneously quench UFDs. We find that the least-massive MW UFDs (M*(z= 5) ≲ 5 × 104M) are likely quenched by reionization, whereas more-massive M31 UFDs (M*(z= 5) ≳ 105M) may only have their star formation suppressed by reionization and quench at a later time. We discuss these findings in the context of the evolution and quenching of UFDs.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024