Volume 528, April 2011
|Number of page(s)||22|
|Published online||11 March 2011|
Deep wide-field imaging down to the oldest main sequence turn-offs in the Sculptor dwarf spheroidal galaxy⋆
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, PO Box 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
2 National Optical Astronomy Observatory, PO box 26732, Tucson, AZ 85726, USA
3 Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA, UK
4 European Southern Observatory, Garching bei Munchen, Germany
5 Observatoire de la Côte d’azur, CNRS UMR6202, Bd de l’Observatoire, BP 4229, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
6 McDonald Observatory, University of Texas at Austin, Fort Davis, TX, USA
7 School of Mathematics & Physics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Received: 23 December 2010
Accepted: 19 January 2011
We present wide-field photometry of resolved stars in the nearby Sculptor dwarf spheroidal galaxy using CTIO/MOSAIC, going down to the oldest main sequence turn-off. The accurately flux calibrated wide field colour-magnitude diagrams can be used to constrain the ages of different stellar populations, and also their spatial distribution. The Sculptor dSph contains a predominantly ancient stellar population (>10 Gyr old) which can be easily resolved into individual stars. A galaxy dominated by an old population provides a clear view of ancient processes of galaxy formation unimpeded by overlying younger populations. By using spectroscopic metallicities of RGB stars in combination with our deep main sequence turn-off photometry we can constrain the ages of different stellar populations with particular accuracy. We find that the known metallicity gradient in Sculptor is well matched to an age gradient. This is the first time that this link with age has been directly quantified. This gradient has been previously observed as a variation in horizontal branch properties and is now confirmed to exist for main sequence turn-offs as well. It is likely the Sculptor dSph first formed an extended metal-poor population at the oldest times, and subsequent more metal-rich, younger stars were formed more towards the centre until the gas was depleted or lost roughly 7 Gyr ago. The fact that these clear radial gradients have been preserved up to the present day is consistent with the apparent lack of signs of recent tidal interactions.
Key words: galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: evolution / galaxies: stellar content / Local Group / Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
Appendices are only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2011
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.