The Morphology and Structure of Stellar Populations in the Fornax Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy from Dark Energy Survey Data

M. Y. Wang, T. De Boer, A. Pieres, T. S. Li, A. Drlica-Wagner, S. E. Koposov, A. K. Vivas, A. B. Pace, B. Santiago, A. R. Walker, D. L. Tucker, L. Strigari, J. L. Marshall, B. Yanny, D. L. Depoy, K. Bechtol, A. Roodman, T. M.C. Abbott, F. B. Abdalla, S. AllamJ. Annis, S. Avila, E. Bertin, D. Brooks, D. L. Burke, A. Carnero Rosell, M. Carrasco Kind, C. E. Cunha, C. B. D'Andrea, L. N. Da Costa, J. De Vicente, S. Desai, T. F. Eifler, J. Estrada, B. Flaugher, J. Frieman, J. García-Bellido, D. W. Gerdes, D. Gruen, R. A. Gruendl, G. Gutierrez, D. L. Hollowood, K. Honscheid, D. J. James, K. Kuehn, N. Kuropatkin, O. Lahav, M. A.G. Maia, R. Miquel, E. Sanchez, V. Scarpine, I. Sevilla-Noarbe, M. Smith, R. C. Smith, F. Sobreira, E. Suchyta, M. E.C. Swanson, G. Tarle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using deep wide-field photometry 3 yr data (Y3) from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), we present a panoramic study of the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy. The data presented here - a small subset of the full survey - uniformly cover a region of 25 deg2 centered on the galaxy to a depth of g ∼ 23.5. We use these data to study the structural properties of Fornax, overall stellar population, and its member stars in different evolutionary phases. We also search for possible signs of tidal disturbance. Fornax is found to be significantly more spatially extended than what early studies suggested. No statistically significant distortions or signs of tidal disturbances were found down to a surface brightness limit of ∼32.1 mag arcsec-2. However, there are hints of shell-like features located ∼20′-40′ from the center of Fornax that may be stellar debris from past merger events. We also find that intermediate-age and young main-sequence populations show different orientation at the galaxy center and have many substructures. The deep DES Y3 data allow us to characterize the age of those young stellar substructures with great accuracy, both those previously known and those newly identified as possible overdensities in this work, on the basis of their color-magnitude diagram morphology. We find that the youngest overdensities are all found on the eastern side of Fornax, where the Fornax field population itself is slightly younger than in the west. In summary, the high-quality DES Y3 data reveal that Fornax has many rich structures and provide insights into its complex formation history.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number118
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 20 2019


  • Local Group
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: individual (Fornax)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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