The structure of the Sagittarius stellar stream as traced by blue horizontal branch stars

Christine Ruhland, Eric F. Bell, Hans-Walter Rix, Xiang-Xiang Xue

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    Abstract

    We use a sample of blue horizontal branch (BHB) stars from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 7 to explore the structure of the tidal tails from the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy. We use a method yielding BHB star candidates with up to similar to 70% purity from photometry alone. The resulting sample has a distance precision of roughly 5% and can probe distances in excess of 100 kpc. Using this sample, we identify a possible extension to the trailing arm at distances of 60-80 kpc from the Sun with an estimated significance of at least 3.8 sigma. Current models predict that a distant "returning" segment of the debris stream should exist, but place it substantially closer to the Sun where no debris is observed in our data. Exploiting the distance precision of our tracers, we estimate the mean line-of-sight thickness of the leading arm to be similar to 3 kpc, and show that the two "bifurcated" branches of the debris stream differ by only 1-2 kpc in distance. With a spectroscopic very pure BHB star subsample, we estimate the velocity dispersion in the leading arm, 37 km s(-1), which is in reasonable agreement with models of Sgr disruption. We finally present a sample of high-probability Sgr BHB stars in the leading arm of Sgr, selected to have distances and velocities consistent with Sgr membership, to allow further study.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number119
    Number of pages17
    JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
    Volume731
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2011

    Keywords

    • galaxies: dwarf
    • galaxies: interactions
    • Galaxy: halo
    • Galaxy: stellar content
    • DIGITAL SKY SURVEY
    • DWARF SPHEROIDAL GALAXY
    • DARK-MATTER HALO
    • MILKY-WAY SATELLITE
    • GALACTIC GLOBULAR-CLUSTERS
    • RR-LYRAE STARS
    • A-TYPE STARS
    • TIDAL STREAMS
    • SURVEY VIEW
    • SPIRAL GALAXIES

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