Candidate RR Lyrae stars found in Sloan Digital Sky Survey commissioning data

Željko Ivezić, Josh Goldston, Kristian Finlator, Gillian R. Knapp, Brian Yanny, Timothy A. Mckay, Susan Amrose, Kevin Krisciunas, Beth Willman, Scott Anderson, Chris Schaber, Dawn Erb, Chelsea Logan, Chris Stubbs, Bing Chen, Eric Neilsen, Alan Uomoto, Jeffrey R. Pier, Xiaohui Fan, James E. GunnRobert H. Lupton, Constance M. Rockosi, David Schlegel, Michael A. Strauss, James Annis, Jon Brinkmann, István Csabai, Mamoru Doi, Masataka Fukugita, Gregory S. Hennessy, Robert B. Hindsley, Bruce Margon, Jeffrey A. Munn, Heidi Jo Newberg, Donald P. Schneider, J. Allyn Smith, Gyula P. Szokoly, Aniruddha R. Thakar, Michael S. Vogeley, Patrick Waddell, Naoki Yasuda, Donald G. York

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

190 Scopus citations


We present a sample of 148 candidate RR Lyrae stars selected from Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) commissioning data for about 100 deg2 of sky surveyed twice with Δt = 1.9946 days. Although the faint-magnitude limit of the SDSS allows us to detect RR Lyrae stars to large Galactocentric distances (∼100 kpc, or r* ∼ 21), we find no candidates fainter than r* ∼ 20, i.e., farther than ∼65 kpc from the Galactic center. On the assumption that all 148 candidates are indeed RR Lyrae stars (contamination by other species of variable star is probably less than 10%), we find that their volume density has roughly a power-law dependence on Galactocentric radius, R-2.7±0.2, between 10 and 50 kpc and drops abruptly at R ∼ 50-60 kpc, possibly indicating a sharp edge to the stellar halo as traced by RR Lyrae stars. The Galactic distribution of stars in this sample is very inhomogeneous and shows a clump of over 70 stars at about 45 kpc from the Galactic center. This clump is also detected in the distribution of nonvariable objects with RR Lyrae star colors. When sources in the clump are excluded, the best power-law fit becomes consistent with the R-3 distribution found from surveys of bright RR Lyrae stars. These results imply that the halo contains clumpy overdensities inhomogeneously distributed within a smooth R-3 background, with a possible cutoff at ∼50 kpc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)963-977
Number of pages15
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: stellar content
  • Galaxy: structure
  • RR Lyrae variable


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