WEAK GALACTIC HALO-DWARF SPHEROIDAL CONNECTION FROM RR LYRAE STARS

Giuliana Fiorentino, Giuseppe Bono, Matteo Monelli, Peter B. Stetson, Eline Tolstoy, Carme Gallart, Maurizio Salaris, Clara E. Martinez-Vasquez, Edouard J. Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We discuss the role that dwarf galaxies may have played in the formation of the Galactic halo (Halo) using RR Lyrae stars (RRL) as tracers of their ancient stellar component. The comparison is performed using two observables (periods, luminosity amplitudes) that are reddening and distance independent. Fundamental mode RRL in 6 dwarf spheroidals (dSphs) and 11 ultra faint dwarf galaxies (similar to 1300) show a Gaussian period distribution well peaked around a mean period of <Pab > = 0.610 +/- 0.001 days (sigma = 0.03). The Halo RRL (similar to 15,000) are characterized by a broader period distribution. The fundamental mode RRL in all the dSphs apart from Sagittarius are completely lacking in High Amplitude Short Period (HASP) variables, defined as those having P less than or similar to 0.48 days and A(V) >= 0.75 mag. Such variables are not uncommon in the Halo and among the globular clusters and massive dwarf irregulars. To further interpret this evidence, we considered 18 globulars covering a broad range in metallicity (-2.3 less than or similar to [Fe/H] less than or similar to -1.1) and hosting more than 35 RRL each. The metallicity turns out to be the main parameter, since only globulars more metal-rich than [Fe/H]similar to -1.5 host RRL in the HASP region. This finding suggests that dSphs similar to the surviving ones do not appear to be the major building-blocks of the Halo. Leading physical arguments suggest an extreme upper limit of similar to 50% to their contribution. On the other hand, massive dwarfs hosting an old population with a broad metallicity distribution (Large Magellanic Cloud, Sagittarius) may have played a primary role in the formation of the Halo.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume798
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • Local Group
  • stars: variables: RR Lyrae
  • LARGE-MAGELLANIC-CLOUD
  • METAL-POOR STARS
  • GRAVITATIONAL LENSING EXPERIMENT.
  • OGLE-III CATALOG
  • VARIABLE-STARS
  • GLOBULAR-CLUSTERS
  • MILKY-WAY
  • OOSTERHOFF DICHOTOMY
  • CHEMICAL EVOLUTION
  • HORIZONTAL-BRANCH

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