VLA imaging of the intriguing H i cloud HIJASS J1021+6842 in the M81 group

Fabian Walter, Evan D. Skillman, Elias Brinks

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We present VLA H I 21 cm observations of HIJASS J1021+6842, which has been discovered in the direction of the M81 Group. Our synthesis imaging reveals that the H I is distributed over a larger angular extent and velocity range than the single-dish discovery observations. Assuming that HIJASS J1021+6842 is at the distance of the M81 Group, we detect 1.5 × 108 M of H I distributed over as much as 30 kpc, i.e., substantially larger than the biggest dwarf galaxies in the same group. At the depth of our imaging, the H I appears to be confined to at least seven clouds. Peak H I column densities are ∼1.8 × 1020 atoms cm-2, which is well below the canonical star formation threshold of ∼10 21 atoms cm-2 and therefore consistent with the fact that no optical counterpart has as yet been identified. A gradient in velocity is observed across the extent of the detected H I; assuming that the object is gravitationally bound we derive a dynamical mass of 7 × 109 M and a dark-to-luminous mass ratio of >10. Alternatively, a tidal origin may also result in the observed velocity gradient, which would lead to a considerably lower dynamical mass. Given the above properties and the absence of evidence of a stellar population, HIJASS J1021+6842 is unique amongst the other systems in the M81 Group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L105-L108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 II
StatePublished - Jul 10 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
E. D. S. is grateful for partial support from a NASA LTSARP grant NAG5-9221 and the University of Minnesota. We thank our referee, Mike Disney, for useful comments that helped to improve the presentation of this Letter.

Funding Information:
1The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Radio lines: galaxies


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