A new approach to detailed structural decomposition from the splash and phat surveys: Kicked-up disk stars in the andromeda galaxy?

Claire E. Dorman, Lawrence M. Widrow, Puragra Guhathakurta, Anil C. Seth, Daniel Foreman-Mackey, Eric F. Bell, Julianne J. Dalcanton, Karoline M. Gilbert, Evan D. Skillman, Benjamin F. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We characterize the bulge, disk, and halo subcomponents in the Andromeda galaxy (M31) over the radial range 4 kpc < R proj < 225 kpc. The cospatial nature of these subcomponents renders them difficult to disentangle using surface brightness (SB) information alone, especially interior to ∼20 kpc. Our new decomposition technique combines information from the luminosity function (LF) of over 1.5 million bright (20 < m 814W < 22) stars from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury survey, radial velocities of over 5000 red giant branch stars in the same magnitude range from the Spectroscopic and Photometric Landscape of Andromeda's Stellar Halo survey, and integrated I-band SB profiles from various sources. We use an affine-invariant Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm to fit an appropriate toy model to these three data sets. The bulge, disk, and halo SB profiles are modeled as a Sérsic, exponential, and cored power law, respectively, and the LFs are modeled as broken power laws. We present probability distributions for each of 32 parameters describing the SB profiles and LFs of the three subcomponents. We find that the number of stars with a disk-like LF is 5.2% ± 2.1% larger than the number with disk-like (dynamically cold) kinematics, suggesting that some stars born in the disk have been dynamically heated to the point that they are kinematically indistinguishable from halo members. This is the first kinematical evidence for a "kicked-up disk" halo population in M31. The fraction of kicked-up disk stars is consistent with that found in simulations. We also find evidence for a radially varying disk LF, consistent with a negative metallicity gradient in the stellar disk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2013


  • Local Group
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: spiral
  • galaxies: structure

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