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Post Info TOPIC: Andromeda galaxy (M31)


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RE: Andromeda galaxy (M31)
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Surprise Pancake Structure in Andromeda Galaxy Upends Galactic Understanding

Astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii and W. M. Keck Observatory telescopes on the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii have been amazed to find a group of dwarf galaxies moving in unison in the vicinity of the Andromeda Galaxy. The structure of these small galaxies lies in a plane, analogous to the planets of the Solar System. Unexpectedly, they orbit the much larger Andromeda galaxy en masse, presenting a serious challenge to our ideas for the formation and evolution of all galaxies.
The findings are being reported on the cover the upcoming issue of the journal, Nature.

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Title: A vast, thin plane of corotating dwarf galaxies orbiting the Andromeda galaxy
Authors: Rodrigo A. Ibata, Geraint F. Lewis, Anthony R. Conn, Michael J. Irwin, Alan W. McConnachie, Scott C. Chapman, Michelle L. Collins, Mark Fardal, Annette M. N. Ferguson, Neil G. Ibata, A. Dougal Mackey, Nicolas F. Martin, Julio Navarro, R. Michael Rich, David Valls-Gabaud & Lawrence M. Widrow

Dwarf satellite galaxies are thought to be the remnants of the population of primordial structures that coalesced to form giant galaxies like the Milky Way. It has previously been suspected that dwarf galaxies may not be isotropically distributed around our Galaxy, because several are correlated with streams of HI emission, and may form coplanar groups. These suspicions are supported by recent analyses. It has been claimed that the apparently planar distribution of satellites is not predicted within standard cosmology, and cannot simply represent a memory of past coherent accretion. However, other studies dispute this conclusion. Here we report the existence of a planar subgroup of satellites in the Andromeda galaxy (M31), comprising about half of the population. The structure is at least 400 kiloparsecs in diameter, but also extremely thin, with a perpendicular scatter of less than 14.1 kiloparsecs. Radial velocity measurements reveal that the satellites in this structure have the same sense of rotation about their host. This shows conclusively that substantial numbers of dwarf satellite galaxies share the same dynamical orbital properties and direction of angular momentum. Intriguingly, the plane we identify is approximately aligned with the pole of the Milky Way's disk and with the vector between the Milky Way and Andromeda.

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Hubblecast 55: Crash of the Titans



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Title: The M31 Velocity Vector. I. Hubble Space Telescope Proper Motion Measurements
Authors: Sangmo Tony Sohn, Jay Anderson, Roeland P. van der Marel (STScI)

We present the first proper motion measurements for the galaxy M31. We obtained new V-band imaging data with the HST ACS/WFC and WFC3/UVIS of a spheroid field near the minor axis, an outer disk field along the major axis, and a field on the Giant Southern Stream. The data provide 5-7 year time baselines with respect to pre-existing deep first-epoch observations. We measure the positions of thousands of M31 stars and hundreds of compact background galaxies in each field. High accuracy and robustness is achieved by building and fitting a unique template for each individual object. The average proper motion for each field is obtained from the average motion of the M31 stars between the epochs with respect to the background galaxies. For the three fields, the observed proper motions (mu_W,mu_N) are (-0.0458, -0.0376), (-0.0533, -0.0104), and (-0.0179,-0.0357) mas/yr, respectively. The ability to average over large numbers of objects and over the three fields yields a final accuracy of 0.012 mas/yr. The robustness of the proper-motion measurements and uncertainties are supported by the fact that data from different instruments, taken at different times and with different telescope orientations, as well as measurements of different fields, all yield statistically consistent results. Papers II and III explore the implications for our understanding of the history, future, and mass of the Local Group.

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Title: The M31 Velocity Vector. II. Radial Orbit Towards the Milky Way and Implied Local Group Mass
Authors: Roeland P. van der Marel (1), Mark Fardal (2), Gurtina Besla (3), Rachael L. Beaton (4), Sangmo Tony Sohn (1), Jay Anderson (1), Tom Brown (1), Puragra Guhathakurta (5) ((1) STScI, (2) U of Massachusetts, (3) Columbia U, (4) U of Virginia, (5) UC Santa Cruz)

We determine the velocity vector of M31 with respect to the Milky Way and use this to constrain the mass of the Local Group, based on HST proper-motion measurements presented in Paper I. We construct N-body models for M31 to correct the measurements for the contributions from stellar motions internal to M31. We also estimate the center-of-mass motion independently, using the kinematics of satellite galaxies of M31 and the Local Group. All estimates are mutually consistent, and imply a weighted average M31 heliocentric transverse velocity of (v_W,v_N) = (-125.230.8, -73.828.4) km/s. We correct for the reflex motion of the Sun using the most recent insights into the solar motion within the Milky Way. This implies a radial velocity of M31 with respect to the Milky Way of V_rad = -109.34.4 km/s, and a tangential velocity V_tan = 17.0 km/s (<34.3 km/s at 1-sigma confidence). Hence, the velocity vector of M31 is statistically consistent with a radial (head-on collision) orbit towards the Milky Way. We revise prior estimates for the Local Group timing mass, including corrections for cosmic bias and scatter. Bayesian combination with other mass estimates yields M_LG = M_MW(vir) + M_M31(vir) = (3.17 0.57) x 10^12 solar masses. The velocity and mass results imply at 95% confidence that M33 is bound to M31, consistent with expectation from observed tidal deformations.

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Title: The M31 Velocity Vector. III. Future Milky Way-M31-M33 Orbital Evolution, Merging, and Fate of the Sun
Authors: Roeland P. van der Marel (1), Gurtina Besla (2), T. J. Cox (3), Sangmo Tony Sohn (1), Jay Anderson (1) ((1) STScI, (2) Columbia U, (3) Carnegie Observatories)

We study the future orbital evolution and merging of the MW-M31-M33 system, using a combination of collisionless N-body simulations and semi-analytic orbit integrations. Monte-Carlo simulations are used to explore the consequences of varying the initial phase-space and mass parameters within their observational uncertainties. The observed M31 transverse velocity implies that the MW and M31 will merge t = 5.86 (+1.61-0.72) Gyr from now, after a first pericenter at t = 3.87 (+0.42-0.32) Gyr. M31 may (probability p=41%) make a direct hit with the MW (defined here as a first-pericenter distance less than 25 kpc). Most likely, the MW and M31 will merge first, with M33 settling onto an orbit around them. Alternatively, M33 may make a direct hit with the MW first (p=9%), or M33 may get ejected from the Local Group (p=7%). The MW-M31 merger remnant will resemble an elliptical galaxy. The Sun will most likely (p=85%) end up at larger radius from the center of the MW-M31 merger remnant than its current distance from the MW center, possibly further than 50 kpc (p=10%). The Sun may (p=20%) at some time in the next 10 Gyr find itself moving through M33 (within 10 kpc), but while dynamically still bound to the MW-M31 merger remnant. The arrival and possible collision of M31 (and possibly M33) with the MW is the next major cosmic event affecting the environment of our Sun and solar system that can be predicted with some certainty.

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NASA's Hubble Shows Milky Way is Destined for Head-on Collision with Andromeda Galaxy

NASA astronomers announced Thursday they can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighbouring Andromeda galaxy.
The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.

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Title: The Neutral Hydrogen Bridge between M31 and M33
Authors: Felix J. Lockman, Nicole L. Free, Joseph C. Shields

The Green Bank Telescope has been used to search for 21cm HI emission over a large area between the galaxies M31 and M33 in an attempt to confirm at 9.1 arcmin angular resolution the detection by Braun and Thilker (2004) of a very extensive neutral gas "bridge" between the two systems at the level NHI approximately 10^{17} cm^{-2}. We detect HI emission at several locations up to 120 kpc in projected distance from M31, at least half the distance to M33, with velocities similar to that of the galaxies, confirming the essence of the Braun and Thilker discovery. The HI does not appear to be associated with the extraplanar high-velocity clouds of either galaxy. In two places we measure NHI > 3 x 10^{18} cm^{-2}, indicative of concentrations of HI with ~10^5 solar masses on scales <2 kpc, but over most of the field we have only 5sigma upper limits of NHI <= 1.4 x 10^{18} cm^{-2}. In very deep measurements in two directions HI lines were detected at a few 10^{17} cm^{-2}. The absence of emission at another location to a 5sigma limit NHI <= 1.5 x 10^{17} cm^{-2} suggests that the HI bridge is either patchy or confined to within ~125 kpc of M31. The measurements also cover two of M31's dwarf galaxies, And II and And XV, but in neither case is there evidence for associated HI at the 5sigma level of 1.4 x 10^4 solar masses of HI for And II, and 9.3 x 10^3 solar masses for And XV.

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Title: A period distribution of X-ray binaries observed in the central region of M31 with Chandra and HS
Authors: R. Barnard, J. L. Galache, M. Garcia, N. Nooraee, P. J. Callanan, A. Zezas, S. S. Murray

Almost all Galactic black hole binaries with low mass donor stars are transient X-ray sources; we expect most of the X-ray transients observed in external galaxies to be black hole binaries also. Obtaining period estimates for extra-galactic transients is challenging, but the resulting period distribution is an important tool for modelling the evolution history of the host galaxy. We have obtained periods, or upper limits, for 12 transients in M31, using an updated relation between the optical and X-ray luminosities. We have monitored the central region of M31 with Chandra for the last ~12 years, and followed up promising transients with HST; 4\sigma B magnitude limits for optical counterparts are ~26--29, depending on crowding. We obtain period estimates for each transient for both neutron star and black hole accretors. Periods range from <0.4 to 490 90 hours (<0.97 to <175 hrs if all are BH systems). These M31 transients appear to be somewhat skewed towards shorter periods than the Milky Way (MW) transients; indeed, comparing the M31 and MW transients with survival analysis techniques used to account for some data with only upper limits yield probabilities of ~0.02--0.08 that the two populations are drawn from the same distribution. We also checked for a correlation between orbital period and distance from the nucleus, finding a 12% probability of no correlation. Further observations of M31 transients will strengthen these results.

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M31 globular clusters
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Title: 12 years of X-ray variability in M31 globular clusters, including 8 black hole candidates, as seen by Chandra
Authors: R. Barnard, M. Garcia, S. S. Murray

We examined 134 Chandra observations of the population of X-ray sources associated with globular clusters (GCs) in the central region of M31. These are expected to be X-ray binary systems (XBs), consisting of a neutron star or black hole accreting material from a close companion. We created long term lightcurves for these sources, correcting for interstellar absorption and instrumental effects. We tested for variability by examining the goodness of fit for the best fit constant intensity. We found significant variability in 27 out of 33 GCs and GC candidates; the other 6 sources had 0.3--10 keV luminosities fainter than ~2E+36 erg/s, limiting our ability to detect similar variability. We identify 3 new black hole candidates (BHCs), bringing the total number of M31 GC BHCs to 9, with 8 covered in this survey. The variable GC XBs either exhibited substantially higher amplitudes than expected from ensemble studies of AGN, or exhibited fluxes expected for <1 AGN per square degree. The two AGN in our sample did vary, but less often, and with smaller amplitudes, than the GC XBs. These encouraging results suggest that examining the long term lightcurves of other X-ray sources in the field may provide an important distinction between X-ray binaries and background galaxies, as the X-ray emission spectra from these two classes of X-ray sources are similar. We also identify a possible transient HMXB associated with a H{\sc ii} region that was previously identified as a GC; its outbursts are consistent with a ~120 day period.

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