The M 101 group complex: new dwarf galaxy candidates and spatial structure
1 Departement PhysikUniversität Basel, Klingelbergstr. 82, 4056 Basel, Switzerland
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2 Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 2611, Australia
Received: 13 January 2017
Accepted: 22 February 2017
Context. The fine details of the large-scale structure in the local Universe provide important empirical benchmarks for testing cosmological models of structure formation. Dwarf galaxies are key object for such studies.
Aims. Our aim was to enlarge the sample of known dwarf galaxies in the local Universe. We performed a search for faint unresolved low-surface-brightness dwarf galaxies in the M 101 group complex, including the region around the major spiral galaxies M 101, M 51, and M 63 lying at a distance of 7.0, 8.6, and 9.0 Mpc, respectively. The new dwarf galaxy sample can be used in a first step to test for significant substructure in the 2D distribution and in a second step to study the spatial distribution of the galaxy complex.
Methods. Using filtering algorithms we surveyed 330 square degrees of imaging data obtained from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The images were visually inspected. The spatial distribution of known galaxies and candidates was analyzed and the system transformed into a M 101 eigenframe using the geometrical alignment of the group.
Results. We discovered 15 new dwarf galaxies and carried out surface photometry in the g and r bands. The similarity of the photometric properties of these dwarfs to those of Local Group dwarfs suggest membership to the M 101 group complex. The sky distribution of the candidates follows the thin planar structure outlined by the known members of the three subgroups. The ~3 Mpc long filamentary structure has a rms thickness of 67 kpc. The planar structure of the embedded M 101 subgroup is even thinner, with rms = 46 kpc. The formation of this structure might be due to the expansion of the bordering Local Void. Other implications are discussed as well.
Conclusions. We show the viability of SDSS data to extend the sample of dwarfs in the local Universe and test cosmological models on small scales.
Key words: galaxies: dwarf / galaxies: groups: individual: M 101 group / galaxies: photometry / large-scale structure of Universe
© ESO, 2017