My research project
Towards a comprehensive study of the Small Magellanic Cloud
My project is based on the use of photometric data form the Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History (SMASH) to study the structure and star formation history of the Small Magellanic Cloud. In a more general context, the information coming from my research is going to contribute to how much galaxy interactions shape the structures and the evolution of the different components that compose them. This is important to contribute to our understanding of more fundamental questions like the nature of dark matter.
The periphery of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) can unlock important information regarding galaxy formation and evolution in interacting systems. Here, we present a detailed study of the extended stellar structure of the SMC using deep colour–magnitude diagrams, obtained as part of the Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History (SMASH). Special care was taken in the decontamination of our data from Milky Way (MW) foreground stars, including from foreground globular clusters NGC 362 and 47 Tuc. We derived the SMC surface brightness using a ‘conservative’ approach from which we calculated the general parameters of the SMC, finding a staggered surface brightness profile. We also traced the fainter outskirts by constructing a stellar density profile. This approach, based on stellar counts of the oldest main-sequence turn-off stars, uncovered a tidally disrupted stellar feature that reaches as far out as 12 deg from the SMC centre. We also serendipitously found a faint feature of unknown origin located at ∼14 deg from the centre of the SMC and that we tentatively associated with a more distant structure. We compared our results to in-house simulations of a 1 × 109 M⊙ SMC, finding that its elliptical shape can be explained by its tidal disruption under the combined presence of the MW and the Large Magellanic Cloud. Finally, we found that the older stellar populations show a smooth profile while the younger component presents a jump in the density followed by a flat profile, confirming the heavily disturbed nature of the SMC.
We present a map of the total intrinsic reddening across ≃34 deg2 of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) derived using optical (ugriz) and near-infrared (IR; YJKs) spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of background galaxies. The reddening map is created using a subsample of 29 274 galaxies with low levels of intrinsic reddening based on the LEPHARE χ2 minimization SED-fitting routine. We find statistically significant enhanced levels of reddening associated with the main body of the SMC compared with regions in the outskirts [ΔE(B − V) ≃ 0.3 mag]. A comparison with literature reddening maps of the SMC shows that, after correcting for differences in the volume of the SMC sampled, there is good agreement between our results and maps created using young stars. In contrast, we find significant discrepancies between our results and maps created using old stars or based on longer wavelength far-IR dust emission that could stem from biased samples in the former and uncertainties in the far-IR emissivity and the optical properties of the dust grains in the latter. This study represents one of the first large-scale categorizations of extragalactic sources behind the SMC and as such we provide the LEPHARE outputs for our full sample of ∼500 000 sources.
The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) are the largest satellite galaxies of the Milky Way and close enough to allow for a detailed exploration of their structure and formation history. The Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History (SMASH) is a community Dark Energy Camera (DECam) survey of the Magellanic Clouds using ~50 nights to sample over ~2400 deg2 centered on the Clouds at ~20% filling factor (but with contiguous coverage in the central regions) and to depths of ~24th mag in ugriz. The primary goals of SMASH are to map out the extended stellar peripheries of the Clouds and uncover their complicated interaction and accretion history as well as to derive spatially resolved star formation histories of the central regions and create a "movie" of their past star formation. Here we announce the second SMASH public data release (DR2), which contains all 197 fully calibrated DECam fields including the main body fields in the central regions. The DR2 data are available through the Astro Data Lab hosted by the NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory. We highlight three science cases that make use of the SMASH DR2 data and will be published in the future: (1) preliminary star formation histories of the LMC, (2) the search for Magellanic star clusters using citizen scientists, and, (3) photometric metallicities of Magellanic Cloud stars using the DECam u-band.