Edinburgh Research Explorer

A timing constraint on the (total) mass of the Large Magellanic Cloud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


This paper explores the effect of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) on the mass estimates obtained from the timing argument. We show that accounting for the presence of the LMC systematically lowers the Local Group mass (MLG) derived from the relative motion of the Milky Way-Andromeda pair. Motivated by this result, we apply a Bayesian technique devised by Peñarrubia et al. to simultaneously fit (i) distances and velocities of galaxies within 3 Mpc and (ii) the relative motion between the Milky Way and Andromeda derived from HST observations, with the LMC mass (MLMC) as a free parameter. Our analysis returns a Local Group mass M_LG=2.64^{+0.42}_{-0.38}× 10^{12} M_{⊙} at a 68 per cent confidence level. The masses of the Milky Way, M_MW=1.04_{-0.23}^{+0.26}× 10^{12} M_{⊙}, and Andromeda, M_{M31}=1.33_{-0.33}^{+0.39}× 10^{12} M_{⊙}, are consistent with previous estimates that neglect the impact of the LMC on the observed Hubble flow. We find a (total) LMC mass M_LMC=0.25_{-0.08}^{+0.09}× 10^{12} M_{⊙}, which is indicative of an extended dark matter halo and supports the scenario where this galaxy is just past its first pericentric approach. Consequently, these results suggest that the LMC may induce significant perturbations on the Galactic potential.

    Research areas

  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics, galaxies: evolution

ID: 23515611