The Haunted Halos of Andromeda and Triangulum: A Panorama of Galaxy Formation in Action

R. Ibata, N. F. Martin, M. Irwin, S. Chapman, A. M. N. Ferguson, G. F. Lewis, A. W. McConnachie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a deep photometric survey of the Andromeda galaxy, conducted with the wide-field cameras of CFHT and INT, that covers the inner 50 kpc of the galaxy and the southern quadrant out to ~150 kpc and includes an extension to M33 at >200 kpc. This is the first systematic panoramic study of this very outermost region of galaxies. We detect a multitude of large-scale structures of low surface brightness, including several streams, and two new relatively luminous (MV~-9) dwarf galaxies: And XV and And XVI. Significant variations in stellar populations due to intervening stream-like structures are detected in the inner halo, which is particularly important in shedding light on the mixed and sometimes conflicting results reported in previous studies. Underlying the many substructures lies a faint, smooth, and extremely extended halo component, reaching out to 150 kpc, whose stellar populations are predominantly metal-poor. We find that the smooth halo component in M31 has a radially decreasing profile that can be fitted with a Hernquist model of immense scale radius ~55 kpc, almost 4 times larger than theoretical predictions. Alternatively a power law with ΣV~R-1.91+/-0.11 can be fitted to the projected profile, similar to the density profile in the Milky Way. If it is symmetric, the total luminosity of this structure is ~109 Lsolar, again similar to the stellar halo of the Milky Way. This vast, smooth, underlying halo is reminiscent of a classical ``monolithic'' model and completely unexpected from modern galaxy formation models. M33 is also found to have an extended metal-poor halo component, which can be fitted with a Hernquist model also of scale radius ~55 kpc. These extended slowly decreasing halos will provide a challenge and strong constraints for further modeling. Based on observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institute National des Sciences de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique of France, and the University of Hawaii.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1591-1623
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007


  • Galaxies: Evolution
  • Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M31
  • Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M33
  • Galaxies: Structure
  • Galaxies: Local Group


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