Discovery of new globular clusters in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy

D. Minniti, V. Ripepi, J. G. Fernández-Trincado, J. Alonso-García, L. C. Smith, P. W. Lucas, M. Gómez, J. B. Pullen, E. R. Garro, F. Vivanco Cádiz, M. Hempel, M. Rejkuba, R. K. Saito, T. Palma, J. J. Clariá, M. Gregg, D. Majaess

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Context. Globular clusters (GCs) are witnesses of the past accretion events onto the Milky Way. In particular, the GCs of the Sagittarius (Sgr) dwarf galaxy are important probes of an on-going merger. Aims. Our main goal is to search for new GC members of this dwarf galaxy using the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea Extended Survey (VVVX) near-infrared database combined with the Gaia Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) optical database. Methods. We investigated all VVVX-enabled discoveries of GC candidates in a region covering about 180 sq. deg. toward the bulge and the Sgr dwarf galaxy. We used multiband point-spread function photometry to obtain deep color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) and luminosity functions (LFs) for all GC candidates, complemented by accurate Gaia-EDR3 proper motions (PMs) to select Sgr members and variability information to select RR Lyrae which are potential GC members. Results. After applying a strict PM cut to discard foreground bulge and disk stars, the CMDs and LFs for some of the GC candidates exhibit well defined red giant branches and red clump giant star peaks. We selected the best Sgr GCs, estimating their distances, reddenings, and associated RR Lyrae. Conclusions. We discover 12 new Sgr GC members, more than doubling the number of GCs known in this dwarf galaxy. In addition, there are 11 other GC candidates identified that are uncertain, awaiting better data for confirmation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberL4
Number of pages12
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Early online date12 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Mar 2021


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: star clusters: general
  • Globular clusters: general
  • Stars: variables: RR Lyrae


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