The elusive stellar halo of the Triangulum galaxy

B. McMonigal, G. F. Lewis, B. J. Brewer, M. J. Irwin, N. F. Martin, A. W. McConnachie, R. A. Ibata, A. M. N. Ferguson, A. D. Mackey, S. C. Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stellar haloes of large galaxies represent a vital probe of the processes of galaxy evolution. They are the remnants of the initial bouts of star formation during the collapse of the protogalactic cloud, coupled with imprint of ancient and ongoing accretion events. Previously, we have reported the tentative detection of a possible, faint, extended stellar halo in the Local Group spiral, the Triangulum galaxy (M33). However, the presence of substructure surrounding M33 made interpretation of this feature difficult. Here, we employ the final data set from the Pan-Andromeda Archaeological Survey, combined with an improved calibration and a newly derived contamination model for the region to revisit this claim. With an array of new fitting algorithms, fully accounting for contamination and the substantial substructure beyond the prominent stellar disc in M33, we reanalyse the surrounds to separate the signal of the stellar halo and the outer halo substructure. Using more robust search algorithms, we do not detect a large-scale smooth stellar halo and place a limit on the maximum surface brightness of such a feature of μV = 35.5 mag arcsec-2, or a total halo luminosity of L <106 L⊙.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4374-4388
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


  • galaxies: haloes
  • galaxies: individual: M33
  • Local Group


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