Friday, May 3, 2013

1305.0272 (Riccardo Giovanelli et al.)

ALFALFA Discovery of the Nearby Gas-Rich Dwarf Galaxy Leo P. I. HI Observations    [PDF]

Riccardo Giovanelli, Martha P. Haynes, Elizabeth A. K. Adams, John M. Cannon, Katherine L. Rhode, John J. Salzer, Evan D. Skillman, Elijah Z. Bernstein-Cooper, Kristen B. W. McQuinn
The discovery of a previously unknown 21cm HI line source identified as an ultra-compact high velocity cloud in the ALFALFA survey is reported. The HI detection is barely resolved by the Arecibo 305m telescope ~4' beam and has a narrow HI linewidth (HPFW of 24 km/s). Further HI observations at Arecibo and with the VLA corroborate the ALFALFA HI detection, provide an estimate of the HI radius, ~1' at the 5 x 10^19 cm^-2 isophote, and show the cloud to exhibit rotation with an amplitude of ~9.0 +/- 1.5 km/s. In other papers, Rhode et al. (2013) show the HI source to have a resolved stellar counterpart and ongoing star forming activity, while Skillman et al. (2013) reveal it as having extremely low metallicity: 12 + log(O/H) = 7.16 +/- 0.04. The HI mass to stellar mass ratio of the object is found to be 2.6. We use the Tully-Fisher template relation in its baryonic form (McGaugh 2012) to obtain a distance estimate D = 1.3 (+0.9,-0.5) Mpc. Additional constraints on the distance are also provided by the optical data of Rhode et al. (2013) and McQuinn et al. (private communication), both indicating a distance in the range of 1.5 to 2.0 Mpc. The three estimates are compatible within their errors. The object appears to be located beyond the dynamical boundaries of, but still in close proximity to the Local Group. Its pristine properties are consistent with the sedate environment of its location. At a nominal distance of 1.75 Mpc, it would have an HI mass of ~1.0 x 10^6 Msun, a stellar mass of ~3.6 x 10^5 Msun, and a dynamical mass within the HI radius of ~1.5 x 10^7 Msun. This discovery supports the idea that optically faint - or altogether dark - low mass halos may be detectable through their non-stellar baryons.
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