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How common are the Magellanic Clouds?


Liu, L; Gerke, B F; Wechsler, R H; Behroozi, P S; Busha, M T (2011). How common are the Magellanic Clouds? Astrophysical Journal, 733(1):62.

Abstract

We introduce a probabilistic approach to the problem of counting dwarf satellites around host galaxies in databases with limited redshift information. This technique is used to investigate the occurrence of satellites with luminosities similar to the Magellanic Clouds around hosts with properties similar to the Milky Way (MW) in the object catalog of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Our analysis uses data from SDSS Data Release 7, selecting candidate MW-like hosts from the spectroscopic catalog and candidate analogs of the Magellanic Clouds from the photometric catalog. Our principal result is the probability for an MW-like galaxy to host N sat close satellites with luminosities similar to the Magellanic Clouds. We find that 81% of galaxies like the MW have no such satellites within a radius of 150 kpc, 11% have one, and only 3.5% of hosts have two. The probabilities are robust to changes in host and satellite selection criteria, background-estimation technique, and survey depth. These results demonstrate that the MW has significantly more satellites than a typical galaxy of its luminosity; this fact is useful for understanding the larger cosmological context of our home galaxy.

Abstract

We introduce a probabilistic approach to the problem of counting dwarf satellites around host galaxies in databases with limited redshift information. This technique is used to investigate the occurrence of satellites with luminosities similar to the Magellanic Clouds around hosts with properties similar to the Milky Way (MW) in the object catalog of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Our analysis uses data from SDSS Data Release 7, selecting candidate MW-like hosts from the spectroscopic catalog and candidate analogs of the Magellanic Clouds from the photometric catalog. Our principal result is the probability for an MW-like galaxy to host N sat close satellites with luminosities similar to the Magellanic Clouds. We find that 81% of galaxies like the MW have no such satellites within a radius of 150 kpc, 11% have one, and only 3.5% of hosts have two. The probabilities are robust to changes in host and satellite selection criteria, background-estimation technique, and survey depth. These results demonstrate that the MW has significantly more satellites than a typical galaxy of its luminosity; this fact is useful for understanding the larger cosmological context of our home galaxy.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:May 2011
Deposited On:18 Feb 2012 10:56
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:55
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:0004-637X (P) 1538-4357 (E)
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1088/0004-637X/733/1/62
Related URLs:http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.2255

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