The four leading arms of the Magellanic Cloud system
Evidence for interaction with Milky Way disk and halo⋆
Argelander-Institut für Astronomie,
Auf dem Hügel 71,
2 Institut für Astrophysik, Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Received: 19 December 2011
Accepted: 13 August 2012
Context. The Magellanic Cloud system (MCS) interacts via tidal and drag forces with the Milky Way galaxy.
Aims. Using the Parkes Galactic All-Sky Survey (GASS) of atomic hydrogen we explore the role of drag on the evolution of the so-called Leading Arm (LA).
Methods. We present a new image recognition algorithm that allows us to differentiate features within a 3D data cube (longitude, latitude, radial velocity) and to parameterize individual coherent structures. We compiled an Hi object catalog of LA objects within an area of 70° × 85° (1.6 sr) of the LA region. This catalog comprises information of location, column density, line width, shape and asymmetries of the individual LA objects above the 4-σ threshold of ΔTb ≃ 200 mK.
Results. We present evidence of a fourth arm segment (LA4). For all LA objects we find an inverse correlation of velocities vGSR in Galactic Standard of Rest frame with Magellanic longitude. High-mass objects tend to have higher radial velocities than low-mass ones. About 1/4 of all LA objects can be characterized as head-tail (HT) structures.
Conclusions. Using image recognition with objective criteria, it is feasible to isolate most of LA emission from the diffuse Milky Way Hi gas. Some blended gas components (we estimate 5%) escape detection, but we find a total gas content of the LA that is about 50% higher than previously assumed. These methods allow the deceleration of the LA clouds to be traced towards the Milky Way disk by drag forces. The derived velocity gradient strongly supports the assumption that the whole LA originates entirely in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). LA4 is observed opposite to LA1, and we propose that both arms are related, spanning about 52 kpc in space. HT structures trace drag forces even at tens of kpc altitudes above the Milky Way disk.
Key words: Galaxy: evolution / Galaxy: halo / Magellanic Clouds / galaxies: interactions
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© ESO, 2012