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  1. Abstract We present the discovery of DELVE 6, an ultra-faint stellar system identified in the second data release of the DECam Local Volume Exploration (DELVE) survey. Based on a maximum-likelihood fit to its structure and stellar population, we find that DELVE 6 is an old ( τ > 9.8 Gyr at 95% confidence) and metal-poor ([Fe/H] < −1.17 dex at 95% confidence) stellar system with an absolute magnitude of M V = − 1.5 − 0.6 + 0.4 mag and an azimuthally averaged half-light radius of r 1 / 2 = 10 − 3 + 4 pc. These properties are consistent with the population of ultra-faint star clusters uncovered by recent surveys. Interestingly, DELVE 6 is located at an angular separation of ∼10° from the center of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), corresponding to a 3D physical separation of ∼20 kpc given the system’s observed distance ( D ⊙ = 80 kpc). This also places the system ∼35 kpc from the center of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), lying within recent constraints on the size of the LMC’s dark matter halo. We tentatively measure the proper motion of DELVE 6 using data from Gaia, which we find supports a potential association between the system and the LMC/SMC. Although future kinematic measurements will be necessary to determine its origins, we highlight that DELVE 6 may represent only the second or third ancient ( τ > 9 Gyr) star cluster associated with the SMC, or one of fewer than two dozen ancient clusters associated with the LMC. Nonetheless, we cannot currently rule out the possibility that the system is a distant Milky Way halo star cluster. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. 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. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 28, 2024
  3. Abstract We report the discovery of Pegasus IV, an ultra-faint dwarf galaxy found in archival data from the Dark Energy Camera processed by the DECam Local Volume Exploration Survey. Pegasus IV is a compact, ultra-faint stellar system ( r 1 / 2 = 41 − 6 + 8 pc; M V = −4.25 ± 0.2 mag) located at a heliocentric distance of 90 − 6 + 4 kpc . Based on spectra of seven nonvariable member stars observed with Magellan/IMACS, we confidently resolve Pegasus IV’s velocity dispersion, measuring σ v = 3.3 − 1.1 + 1.7 km s −1 (after excluding three velocity outliers); this implies a mass-to-light ratio of M 1 / 2 / L V , 1 / 2 = 167 − 99 + 224 M ⊙ / L ⊙ for the system. From the five stars with the highest signal-to-noise spectra, we also measure a systemic metallicity of [Fe/H] = − 2.63 − 0.30 + 0.26 dex, making Pegasus IV one of the most metal-poor ultra-faint dwarfs. We tentatively resolve a nonzero metallicity dispersion for the system. These measurements provide strong evidence that Pegasus IV is a dark-matter-dominated dwarf galaxy, rather than a star cluster. We measure Pegasus IV’s proper motion using data from Gaia Early Data Release 3, finding ( μ α * , μ δ ) = (0.33 ± 0.07, −0.21 ± 0.08) mas yr −1 . When combined with our measured systemic velocity, this proper motion suggests that Pegasus IV is on an elliptical, retrograde orbit, and is currently near its orbital apocenter. Lastly, we identify three potential RR Lyrae variable stars within Pegasus IV, including one candidate member located more than 10 half-light radii away from the system’s centroid. The discovery of yet another ultra-faint dwarf galaxy strongly suggests that the census of Milky Way satellites is still incomplete, even within 100 kpc. 
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  4. Abstract

    We present observations of the dwarf galaxies GALFA Dw3 and GALFA Dw4 with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on the Hubble Space Telescope. These galaxies were initially discovered as optical counterparts to compact Hiclouds in the GALFA survey. Both objects resolve into stellar populations which display old red giant branch (RGB), younger helium-burning, and massive main sequence stars. We use the tip of the RGB method to determine the distance to each galaxy, finding distances of7.610.29+0.28Mpc and3.100.17+0.16Mpc, respectively. With these distances we show that both galaxies are extremely isolated, with no other confirmed objects within ∼1.5 Mpc of either dwarf. GALFA Dw4 is also found to be unusually compact for a galaxy of its luminosity. GALFA Dw3 and Dw4 contain Hiiregions with young star clusters and an overall irregular morphology; they show evidence of ongoing star formation through both ultraviolet and Hαobservations and are therefore classified as dwarf irregulars (dIrrs). The star formation histories of these two dwarfs show distinct differences: Dw3 shows signs of a recently ceased episode of active star formation across the entire dwarf, while Dw4 shows some evidence for current star formation in spatially limited Hiiregions. Compact Hisources offer a promising method for identifying isolated field dwarfs in the Local Volume, including GALFA Dw3 and Dw4, with the potential to shed light on the driving mechanisms of dwarf galaxy formation and evolution.

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  6. Abstract

    We perform a search for galaxy–galaxy strong lens systems using a convolutional neural network (CNN) applied to imaging data from the first public data release of the DECam Local Volume Exploration Survey, which contains ∼520 million astronomical sources covering ∼4000 deg2of the southern sky to a 5σpoint–source depth ofg= 24.3,r= 23.9,i= 23.3, andz= 22.8 mag. Following the methodology of similar searches using Dark Energy Camera data, we apply color and magnitude cuts to select a catalog of ∼11 million extended astronomical sources. After scoring with our CNN, the highest-scoring 50,000 images were visually inspected and assigned a score on a scale from 0 (not a lens) to 3 (very probable lens). We present a list of 581 strong lens candidates, 562 of which are previously unreported. We categorize our candidates using their human-assigned scores, resulting in 55 Grade A candidates, 149 Grade B candidates, and 377 Grade C candidates. We additionally highlight eight potential quadruply lensed quasars from this sample. Due to the location of our search footprint in the northern Galactic cap (b> 10 deg) and southern celestial hemisphere (decl. < 0 deg), our candidate list has little overlap with other existing ground-based searches. Where our search footprint does overlap with other searches, we find a significant number of high-quality candidates that were previously unidentified, indicating a degree of orthogonality in our methodology. We report properties of our candidates including apparent magnitude and Einstein radius estimated from the image separation.

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  8. Abstract We present the second public data release (DR2) from the DECam Local Volume Exploration survey (DELVE). DELVE DR2 combines new DECam observations with archival DECam data from the Dark Energy Survey, the DECam Legacy Survey, and other DECam community programs. DELVE DR2 consists of ∼160,000 exposures that cover >21,000 deg 2 of the high-Galactic-latitude (∣ b ∣ > 10°) sky in four broadband optical/near-infrared filters ( g , r , i , z ). DELVE DR2 provides point-source and automatic aperture photometry for ∼2.5 billion astronomical sources with a median 5 σ point-source depth of g = 24.3, r = 23.9, i = 23.5, and z = 22.8 mag. A region of ∼17,000 deg 2 has been imaged in all four filters, providing four-band photometric measurements for ∼618 million astronomical sources. DELVE DR2 covers more than 4 times the area of the previous DELVE data release and contains roughly 5 times as many astronomical objects. DELVE DR2 is publicly available via the NOIRLab Astro Data Lab science platform. 
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