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Rediscovery of the Sixth Star Cluster in the Fornax Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy Article uri icon

Authors

  • Wang, M. Y., Koposov, S., Drlica-Wagner, A., Pieres, A., Li, T. S., de Boer, T., Bechtol, K., Belokurov, V., Pace, A. B., Bacon, D., Abbott, T. M. C., Annis, J., Bertin, E., Brooks, D., Buckley-Geer, E., Burke, D. L., Carnero Rosell, A., Carrasco Kind, M., Carretero, J., da Costa, L. N., De Vicente, J., Desai, S., Diehl, H. T., Doel, P., Estrada, J., et al

abstract

  • 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 (GC) 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 ~6-6.7s 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 GCs 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.

publication date

  • 2019