Weak Galactic halo-Fornax dSph connection from RR Lyrae stars
1 INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2 IAC–Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 ULL–Universidad de La Laguna, Dpto. Astrofísica, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
4 Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, National Research Council Canada, 5071 West Saanich Road, Victoria, BC V9E 2E7, Canada
5 Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, via della Ricerca Scientifca 1, 00133 Roma, Italy
6 INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via Frascati 33, 00040 Monteporzio Catone, Italy
7 Laboratoire Lagrange, Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur, 06304 Nice Cedex 4, France
8 University of Groningen, Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, 9747 AD Groningen, The Netherlands
9 INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Capodimonte, salita Moiariello 16, 80131 Napoli, Italy
Received: 8 August 2016
Accepted: 9 December 2016
Aims. For the first time accurate pulsation properties of the ancient variable stars of the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy (dSph) are discussed in the broad context of galaxy formation and evolution.
Methods. Homogeneous multi-band BVI optical photometry of spanning twenty years has allowed us to identify and characterize more than 1400 RR Lyrae stars (RRLs) in this galaxy.
Results. Roughly 70% are new discoveries. We investigate the period-amplitude distribution and find that Fornax shows a lack of high amplitude ( mag) short period fundamental-mode RRLs (P ≲ 0.48 d, HASPs). These objects occur in stellar populations more metal-rich than [Fe/H] ~−1.5 and they are common in the Galactic halo (hereafter Halo) and in globulars. This evidence suggests that old Fornax stars (older than 10 Gyr) are relatively metal poor. A detailed statistical analysis of the role of the present-day Fornax dSph in reproducing the Halo period distribution shows that it can only account for up to 20% of the Halo when combined with RRLs in massive dwarf galaxies (Sagittarius dSph, Large Magellanic Cloud). This finding indicates that Fornax-like systems played a smaller role than massive dwarfs in building up the Halo.
Conclusions. We also discuss the occurrence of HASPs in connection with the luminosity and the early chemical composition of nearby dwarf galaxies. We find that, independently of their individual star formation histories, bright (MV ≲ −13.5 mag) galaxies have HASPs, whereas faint ones ( mag) do not. Interestingly enough, Fornax belongs to a luminosity range (−11 < MV ≲ −13.5 mag) in which the occurrence of HASPs appears to be correlated with the early star formation and chemical enrichment of the host galaxy.
Key words: galaxies: evolution / galaxies: individual: Fornax dSph / stars: variables: RR Lyrae
© ESO, 2017