Since first noticed by Shapley in 1939, a faint object coincident with the Fornax dwarf spheroidal has long been discussed as a possible sixth globular cluster system. However, debate has continued over whether this overdensity is a statistical artifact or a blended galaxy group. In this Letter we demonstrate, using deep DECam imaging data, that this object is well resolved into stars and is a bona fide star cluster. The stellar overdensity of this cluster is statistically significant at the level of ~ 6 - 6.7 sigma in several different photometric catalogs including Gaia. Therefore, it is highly unlikely to be caused by random fluctuation. We show that Fornax 6 is a star cluster with a peculiarly low surface brightness and irregular shape, which may indicate a strong tidal influence from its host galaxy. The Hess diagram of Fornax 6 is largely consistent with that of Fornax field stars, but it appears to be slightly bluer. However, it is still likely more metal-rich than most of the globular clusters in the system. Faint clusters like Fornax 6 that orbit and potentially get disrupted in the centers of dwarf galaxies can prove crucial for constraining the dark matter distribution in Milky Way satellites.
|Journal||Astrophysical Journal Letters|
|Publication status||Published - 16 Apr 2019|
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Bacon, D. (Creator) & Thomas, D. (Creator), IOP Publishing, 16 Apr 2019