Digging deeper into the southern skies: a compact Milky-Way companion discovered in first-year Dark Energy Survey data

E. Luque, A. Queiroz, B. Santiago, A. Pieres, E. Balbinot, K. Bechtol, A. Drlica-Wagner, A. Fausti Neto, L. N. da Costa, M. A. G. Maia, B. Yanny, T. Abbott, S. Allam, A. Benoit-Lévy, E. Bertin, D. Brooks, E. Buckley-Geer, D. L. Burke, A. Carnero Rosell, M. Carrasco KindJ. Carretero, C. E. Cunha, S. Desai, H. T. Diehl, J. P. Dietrich, T. F. Eifler, D. A. Finley, B. Flaugher, P. Fosalba, J. Frieman, D. W. Gerdes, D. Gruen, G. Gutierrez, K. Honscheid, D. J. James, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, O. Lahav, T. S. Li, M. March, J. L. Marshall, P. Martini, R. Miquel, E. Neilsen, R. C. Nichol, B. Nord, R. Ogando, A. A. Plazas, A. K. Romer, A. Roodman, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, M. Schubnell, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, R. C. Smith, M. Soares-Santos, F. Sobreira, E. Suchyta, M. E. C. Swanson, G. Tarle, J. Thaler, D. Tucker, A. R. Walker, Y. Zhang

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The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a 5000 sq. degree survey in the southern hemisphere, which is rapidly reducing the existing north-south asymmetry in the census of MW satellites and other stellar substructure. We use the first-year DES data down to previously unprobed photometric depths to search for stellar systems in the Galactic halo, therefore complementing the previous analysis of the same data carried out by our group earlier this year. Our search is based on a matched filter algorithm that produces stellar density maps consistent with stellar population models of various ages, metallicities, and distances over the survey area. The most conspicuous density peaks in these maps have been identified automatically and ranked according to their significance and recurrence for different input models. We report the discovery of one additional stellar system besides those previously found by several authors using the same first-year DES data. The object is compact, and consistent with being dominated by an old and metal-poor population. DES J0034-4902 is found at high significance and appears in the DES images as a compact concentration of faint blue point sources at ~ 87 {kpc}. Its half-light radius of r_h = 9.88 +/- 4.31 {pc} and total luminosity of M_V ~ -3.05_{-0.42}^{+0.69} are consistent with it being a low mass halo cluster. It is also found to have a very elongated shape. In addition, our deeper probe of DES 1st year data confirms the recently reported satellite galaxy candidate Horologium II as a significant stellar overdensity. We also infer its structural properties and compare them to those reported in the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-612
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date9 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • astro-ph.GA
  • astro-ph.SR
  • globular clusters: general
  • globular clusters: individual (DES 1)
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • RCUK
  • STFC


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