Are rotating planes of satellite galaxies ubiquitous?

John I. Phillips, Michael C. Cooper, James S. Bullock, Michael Boylan-Kolchin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We compare the dynamics of satellite galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to simple models in order to test the hypothesis that a large fraction of satellites corotate in coherent planes. We confirm the previously reported excess of corotating satellite pairs located near diametric opposition with respect to their host, but show that this signal is unlikely to be due to rotating discs (or planes) of satellites. In particular, no overabundance of corotating satellites pairs is observed within ~20°-50° of direct opposition, as would be expected for planar distributions inclined relative to the line of sight. Instead, the excess corotation for satellite pairs within ~10° of opposition is consistent with random noise associated with undersampling of an underlying isotropic velocity distribution. Based upon the observed dynamics of the luminous satellite population, we conclude that at most 10 per cent of isolated hosts harbour corotating satellite planes (as traced by bright satellites).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3839-3847
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 11 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: star formation
  • Local Group


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