Discovery of ~9000 new RR lyrae in the southern catalina surveys

G. Torrealba*, M. Catelan, A. J. Drake, S. G. Djorgovski, R. H. McNaught, V. Belokurov, S. Koposov, M. J. Graham, A. Mahabal, S. Larson, E. Christensen

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    95 Citations (Scopus)


    We present the results of a deep, wide-area variability survey in the Southern hemisphere, the first of its kind. As part of the Catalina Sky Surveys, the Siding Spring Survey (SSS) has covered 14 800 deg2 in the declination range of -75° ≤ δ ≤ -15°. To mine the enormous SSS data set efficiently, we have developed two algorithms: automatic period selection (APS) and automatic Fourier decomposition (AFD), which aim to sharpen the period estimation and produce robust light-curve models. Armed with the APS and AFD outputs, we classify 10 540 ab-type RR Lyrae (RRab) stars (~90 per cent of which are new) across the southern sky. As well as the positional information we supply photometric metallicities, and unreddened distances. For the RRab stars in the halo, a study of the photometric metallicity distribution reveals a nearly Gaussian shape with amean metallicity of [Fe/H]=-1.4 dex and a dispersion of 0.3 dex. A spatial study of the RRab metallicities shows no significant radial gradient in the first ~7 kpc from the Galaxy centre. However, further out, a small negative gradient is clearly present. This is complemented by a very obvious correlation of the mean RR Lyrae metallicity with distance above the Galactic plane, z. We have also carried out an initial sub-structure search using the discovered RRab, and present the properties of the candidates with significance greater than 2σ. Most prominent among these is a southern extension of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy's stream system, reaching down to declinations~ -40 deg.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2251-2266
    Number of pages16
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2015


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