Red clump stars in the Sagittarius tidal streams

Kenneth Carrell, Ronald Wilhelm, Yuqin Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We have probed a section (l ∼ 150, b ∼ -60) of the trailing tidal arm of the Sagittarius dwarf spheroidal galaxy by identifying a sample of Red Clump (RC) stream stars. RC stars are not generally found in the halo field, but are found in significant numbers in both the Sagittarius galaxy and its tidal streams, making them excellent probes of stream characteristics. Our target sample was selected using photometric data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Data Release 6, which was constrained in color to match the Sagittarius RC stars. Spectroscopic observations of the target stars were conducted at Kitt Peak National Observatory using the WIYN telescope. The resulting spectroscopic sample is magnitude limited and contains both main-sequence disk stars and evolved RC stars. We have developed a method to systematically separate these two stellar classes using kinematic information and a Bayesian approach for surface gravity determination. The resulting RC sample allows us to determine an absolute stellar density of ρ = 2.7 ± 0.5 RC stars kpc -3 at this location in the stream. Future measurements of stellar densities for a variety of populations and at various locations along the streams will lead to a much improved understanding of the original nature of the Sagittarius galaxy and the physical processes controlling its disruption and subsequent stream generation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Galaxy: halo
  • galaxies: interactions
  • stars: horizontal-branch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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