New faint dwarf galaxy discovered

July 3, 2017 by Tomasz Nowakowski, report
A cutout of the map of M81’s stellar halo in resolved RGB stars (Smercina et al. 2017, in preparation). The colors correspond to the metallicity bins defined on the CMD in the top left figure. The known galaxies in the field are labeled. d1005+68 is located at the bottom left of the map, indicated by a black arrow. It appears as a significant overdensity of blue (metal-poor) RGB stars, very near to the dwarf spheroidal, BK5N. Credit: Smercina et al., 2017.

(—Astronomers have detected a new faint dwarf spheroidal galaxy using Japan's Subaru Telescope located in Hawaii. The newly found dwarf, designated d1005+68, belongs to a nearby galaxy group known as the M81 Group. The new findings were presented June 22 in a paper published on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Dwarf galaxies are small galaxies composed of about 100 million up to several billion stars. Astronomers are puzzled by the so-called "dwarf galaxy problem" (also known as the missing satellites problem), arising from simulations predicting the evolution of the distribution of matter in the universe. Dark matter simulations show that the number of should be orders of magnitude higher than actually observed.

To resolve this conundrum, scientists are searching for these missing dwarfs, especially beyond the Local Group of galaxies. Currently available surveys enable identification of faint dwarfs in nearby galaxy groups, and recently, a team of astronomers led by Adam Smercina of the University of Michigan has detected such a new faint dwarf in the M81 Group – one of the groups nearest to the Local Group.

The researchers used the Hyper Suprime-Cam (HSC) installed on the Subaru Telescope to conduct a survey of M81's resolved stellar halo. The HSC camera allowed the team to distinguish an overdensity of stars, which turned out to be a faint dwarf spheroidal galaxy.

"In this Letter, we presented a new faint dwarf galaxy, d1005+68, with properties consistent with being a satellite of the M81 Group. It was detected as a 5σ overdensity in our 3.5 deg2 Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam survey of M81's resolved ," the astronomers wrote in the paper.

The study reveals that d1005+68 is located some 13 million light years from the Earth and approximately 250,000 light years from the M81 galaxy. The dwarf has a half-light radius of 613 light years and an estimated stellar mass of about 250,000 solar masses. The researchers assume that the galaxy is about 12 billion years old.

With an absolute V-band magnitude of 7.94, d1005+68 is one of the faintest confirmed discovered outside of the Local Group.

What still puzzles the scientists is the proximity of d1005+68 to the dwarf elliptical galaxy designated BK5N – a satellite of M81. According to the paper, they are separated from each other by about 16,300 light years, which suggests that d1005+68 could be a satellite of BK5N.

"The projected separation between d1005+68 and BK5N of 5 kpc is well within the estimated virial radius of BK5N (about 40 kpc). With our highly uncertain TRGB (tip of the red-giant branch) distance (due to scarcity of stars) and the similarity between the two CMDs (color-magnitude diagrams), this introduces the possibility that d1005+68 is a satellite of BK5N," the team wrote.

However, more observations that could provide more accurate distance estimates and line of sight velocity information are needed in order to prove this hypothesis is true. If confirmed, d1005+68 would be the first satellite-of-a-satellite discovered outside of the Local Group.

Explore further: New dwarf satellite galaxy of Messier 83 found

More information: d1005+68: A New Faint Dwarf Galaxy in the M81 Group, arXiv:1706.07039 [astro-ph.GA]

We present the discovery of d1005+68, a new faint dwarf galaxy in the M81 Group, using observations taken with the Subaru Hyper Suprime-Cam. d1005+68's color-magnitude diagram is consistent with a distance of 3.98+0.39−0.43 Mpc, establishing group membership. We derive an absolute V-band magnitude, from stellar isochrone fitting, of MV=−7.94+0.38−0.50, with a half-light radius of rh=188+39−41 pc. These place d1005+68 within the radius-luminosity locus of Local Group and M81 satellites and among the faintest confirmed satellites outside the Local Group. Assuming an age of 12 Gyr, d1005+68's red giant branch is best fit by an isochrone of [Fe/H] =−1.90±0.24. It has a projected separation from nearby M81 satellite BK5N of only 5 kpc. As this is well within BK5N's virial radius, we speculate that d1005+68 may be a satellite of BK5N. If confirmed, this would make d1005+68 one of the first detected satellites-of-a-satellite.

Related Stories

New dwarf satellite galaxy of Messier 83 found

December 5, 2016

(—Astronomers have found a new dwarf satellite of Messier 83 (M83, also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy) located some 85,000 light years from its host. This satellite galaxy was designated dw1335-29 and could ...

Image: Hubble views a stubborn dwarf galaxy

July 12, 2016

The fuzzy collection of stars seen in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image forms an intriguing dwarf galaxy named LEDA 677373, located about 14 million light-years away from us.

A shy galactic neighbor

September 16, 2015

The Sculptor Dwarf Galaxy, pictured in this new image from the Wide Field Imager camera, installed on the 2.2-metre MPG/ESO telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory, is a close neighbour of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Despite ...

Hubble peers at a distinctly disorganized dwarf galaxy

April 4, 2016

Despite being less famous than their elliptical and spiral galactic cousins, irregular dwarf galaxies, such as the one captured in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, are actually one of the most common types of galaxy ...

Recommended for you

Magnetized inflow accreting to center of Milky Way galaxy

August 17, 2018

Are magnetic fields an important guiding force for gas accreting to a supermassive black hole (SMBH) like the one that our Milky Way galaxy hosts? The role of magnetic fields in gas accretion is little understood, and trying ...

First science with ALMA's highest-frequency capabilities

August 17, 2018

The ALMA telescope in Chile has transformed how we see the universe, showing us otherwise invisible parts of the cosmos. This array of incredibly precise antennas studies a comparatively high-frequency sliver of radio light: ...

Another way for stellar-mass black holes to grow larger

August 17, 2018

A trio of researchers with The University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in Taiwan and Northwestern University in the U.S., has come up with an alternative theory to explain how some ...

Six things about Opportunity's recovery efforts

August 17, 2018

NASA's Opportunity rover has been silent since June 10, when a planet-encircling dust storm cut off solar power for the nearly-15-year-old rover. Now that scientists think the global dust storm is "decaying"—meaning more ...

Sprawling galaxy cluster found hiding in plain sight

August 16, 2018

MIT scientists have uncovered a sprawling new galaxy cluster hiding in plain sight. The cluster, which sits a mere 2.4 billion light years from Earth, is made up of hundreds of individual galaxies and surrounds an extremely ...

Hubble paints picture of the evolving universe

August 16, 2018

Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Jul 03, 2017
Dark matter simulations show that the number of dwarf galaxies should be orders of magnitude higher than actually observed.

An embarrassing problem for the merger maniacs, that perhaps they are not quick to admit.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.