Major substructure in the M31 outer halo: distances and metallicities along the giant stellar stream

A. R. Conn, B. McMonigal, N. F. Bate, G. F. Lewis, R. A. Ibata, N. F. Martin, A. W. McConnachie, A. M. N. Ferguson, M. J. Irwin, P. J. Elahi, K. A. Venn, A. D. Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a renewed look at M31's giant stellar stream along with the nearby structures streams C and D, exploiting a new algorithm capable of fitting to the red giant branch (RGB) of a structure in both colour and magnitude space. Using this algorithm, we are able to generate probability distributions in distance, metallicity and RGB width for a series of subfields spanning these structures. Specifically, we confirm a distance gradient of approximately 20 kpc per degree along a 6 deg extension of the giant stellar stream, with the farthest subfields from M31 lying ˜120 kpc more distant than the innermost subfields. Further, we find a metallicity that steadily increases from -0.7^{+0.1}_{-0.1} to -0.2^{+0.2}_{-0.1} dex along the inner half of the stream before steadily dropping to a value of -1.0^{+0.2}_{-0.2} dex at the farthest reaches of our coverage. The RGB width is found to increase rapidly from 0.4^{+0.1}_{-0.1} to 1.1^{+0.2}_{-0.1} dex in the inner portion of the stream before plateauing and decreasing marginally in the outer subfields of the stream. In addition, we estimate stream C to lie at a distance between 794 and 862 kpc and stream D between 758 and 868 kpc. We estimate the median metallicity of stream C to lie in the range -0.7 to -1.6 dex and a metallicity of -1.1^{+0.3}_{-0.2} dex for stream D. RGB widths for the two structures are estimated to lie in the range 0.4-1.2 dex and 0.3-0.7 dex, respectively. In total, measurements are obtained for 19 subfields along the giant stellar stream, four along stream C, five along stream D and three general M31 spheroid fields for comparison. We thus provide a higher resolution coverage of the structures in these parameters than has previously been available in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3282-3298
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Early online date7 Mar 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2016


  • Local Group
  • galaxies: structure


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