DECam Community Science Workshop 2018: Science Highlights, Coming Opportunities, LSST Synergies
May 21-22, 2018 • Tucson, Arizona
Stars in the outermost halo of the Milky Way are vital tracers of the mass of our Galaxy. Furthermore, beyond ~100 kpc from the Galactic center, most (or perhaps all) of the stars are likely to be in faint dwarf galaxies or tidal debris from recently accreted dwarfs, making the outer reaches of the Galaxy important for understanding the Milky Way’s accretion history. Confirmed stars are scarce at these distances because they are difficult to securely identify. Pulsating variables such as RR Lyrae are ideal probes of the distant halo because they are readily identified in time-series data, are intrinsically bright and thus can be seen at large distances, and follow well-known period-luminosity relations that enable precise distance measurements. We present results from our program to find RR Lyrae using deep DECam time series data (from the HiTS supernova survey as well as our own observing program) covering ~350 square degrees. Our sample of distant RR Lyrae more than doubles the number of known Milky Way stars beyond distances of ~150 kpc. Among these, we find two distinct groups of two and three stars that are members of the Leo IV and Leo V ultra-faint dwarf galaxies, located at distances of ~145 kpc and ~175 kpc, respectively. We derive the stellar density as a function of Galactocentric radius, extending to more than 250 kpc from the Galactic center. This sample of RR Lyrae provides a set of important probes of the mass of the Milky Way and the accretion origin of the outer Galactic halo.
Authors: Jeff Carlin