A new study of stellar substructures in the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy
1 Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen, Postbus 800, 9700 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
2 National Optical Astronomy Observatory, PO box 26732, Tucson, AZ 85726, USA ⋆
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory is operated by AURA, Inc., under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
3 Steward Observatory, The University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
Received: 5 December 2012
Accepted: 15 January 2013
Using deep V,B − V wide-field photometry, we have conducted a new study of stellar over-densities in the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy by determining detailed star formation histories from colour–magnitude diagram analysis. We have concentrated on the relatively young stellar component (<4 Gyr old), and compared this to the underlying Fornax field population. We have studied in more detail the previously known inner shell-like structure and shown that it has a well-defined age-metallicity relation with a peak at ≈1.5 Gyr, [Fe/H] = −0.6 dex. Comparison to the Fornax centre shows that the over-dense feature is consistent with the age-metallicity relation of young field stars, and likely formed from Fornax gas. This is consistent with a scenario in which the over-density was formed by the re-accretion of previously expelled gas. We have also discovered a new stellar over-density, located 0.3 degrees (0.7 kpc) from the centre, which is only 100 Myr old, with solar metallicity. This feature constitutes some of the youngest, most metal-rich stars stars observed in Fornax to date. It is unclear how the young over-density was formed, although the age and metallicity of stars suggest this feature may represent the last star formation activity of the Fornax dSph.
Key words: galaxies: stellar content / galaxies: evolution / Local Group / Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
© ESO, 2013