Using Surface Brightness Fluctuations to Study nearby Satellite Galaxy Systems: The Complete Satellite System of M101

Scott G. Carlsten, Rachael L. Beaton, Johnny P. Greco, Jenny E. Greene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use surface brightness fluctuation (SBF) measurements to constrain the distance to low surface brightness (LSB) dwarfs in the vicinity of M101. Recent work has discovered many LSB candidate satellite companions of M101. However, without accurate distances, it is problematic to identify these dwarfs as physical satellites of M101. We use CFHT Legacy Survey data to measure the SBF signal for 43 candidate dwarfs. The data are deep enough that we constrain 33 of these to be unassociated background galaxies by their lack of SBF. We measure high S/N SBF signals for two of the candidate dwarfs, which are consistent with being at the distance of M101. The remaining candidates are too LSB and/or small for their distances to be constrained. Still, by comparison with Local Group dwarfs, we argue that the M101 satellite system is likely now complete down to stellar masses of ∼5 ×105 M o. We also provide a new SBF distance for the nearby dwarf UGC 8882, which suggests that it might be a physical satellite of M101; however, further study is merited. By constraining the distances to a majority of the candidates using only archival data, our work demonstrates the usefulness of SBF for nearby LSB galaxies and for studying the satellite systems of nearby massive galaxies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL16
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume878
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Keywords

  • galaxies: distances and redshifts
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • methods: observational
  • techniques: photometric

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