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Resolving the Extended Stellar Halos of Nearby Galaxies: the Wide-field PISCeS Survey
November 20, 201711:30 am – 12:30 pm (CDT)

Resolving the Extended Stellar Halos of Nearby Galaxies: the Wide-field PISCeS Survey


Denija Crnojevic (Texas Tech University)



Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics & Astronomy

College Station, Texas 77843

Event Details

I will present the wide-field Panoramic Imaging Survey of Centaurus and Sculptor (PISCeS): the resolved stellar halos of two nearby galaxies (the spiral NGC253 and the elliptical Centaurus A, D~3.7 Mpc) are investigated out to a galactocentric radius of 150 kpc with Magellan/Megacam. The survey pushes the limits of near-field cosmology beyond the Local Group, by characterizing the stellar content (ages, metallicities, gradients) of extended halos and their substructures in two environments substantially different from the Local Group. PISCeS has to date led to the discovery of 11 confirmed satellites as faint as M_V=-8 (including Ultra Diffuse Galaxies), streams and tidal substructures with surface brigthness limits as low as ~32 mag/arcsec^2, and hundreds of globular cluster/ultra-compact dwarf candidates. The unique strength of PISCeS is the exquisite synergy between the wide-field, ground-based survey and its extensive imaging and spectroscopic follow-up (HST, Keck, VLT, Magellan, AAT), which constitute the first accurate characterization of the past and ongoing accretion processes shaping the halos of these nearby galaxies. Our observational campaign will not only provide crucial constraints to quantitatively inform theoretical models of galaxy formation and evolution, but it also represents a necessary testbed in preparation for future very large datasets stemming from the next generation of ground-based (LSST, TMT, GMT) as well as space-borne (JWST, WFIRST) telescopes.

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