3 years ago

The first all-sky view of the Milky Way stellar halo with Gaia+2MASS RR Lyrae.

S.E. Koposov, F. Fraternali, C. Nipoti, G. Iorio, D. Erkal, V. Belokurov

We exploit the first \gaia data release to study the properties of the Galactic stellar halo as traced by RR Lyrae. We demonstrate that it is possible to select a pure sample of RR Lyrae using only photometric information available in the Gaia+2MASS catalogue. The final sample contains about 21600 RR Lyrae covering an unprecedented fraction ($\sim60\%$) of the volume of the Galactic inner halo ($\text{R}<28$ kpc). We study the morphology of the stellar halo by analysing the RR Lyrae distribution with parametric and non-parametric techniques. Taking advantage of the uniform all-sky coverage, we test halo models more sophisticated than usually considered in the literature, such as those with varying flattening, tilt and/or offset of the halo with respect to the Galactic disc. A consistent picture emerges: the inner halo is well reproduced by a smooth distribution of stars settled on triaxial ellipsoids. The minor axis is perpendicular to the Milky Ways disc, while the major axis is misaligned by $\sim20^{\circ}$ from the Galactic Y axis. The elongation along the major axis is mild ($\text{p}=1.27$), and the vertical flattening is shown to evolve from a squashed state with $\text{q}\approx0.57$ in the centre to a more spherical $\text{q}\approx0.75$ at the outer edge of our dataset. The density slope is well approximated by a single power-law with exponent $\alpha=-2.96$. Within the range probed, we see no significant evidence for a change of the radial density slope, out of the plane tilt or an offset of the halo with respect to the Galaxy's centre.

Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1707.03833

DOI: arXiv:1707.03833v2

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