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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Dr Nigel Metcalfe

Bate, N. F., McMonigal, B., Lewis, G. F., Irwin, M. J., Gonzalez-Solares, E., Shanks, T. & Metcalfe, N. (2015). The shell game: a panoramic view of Fornax. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 453(1): 690-703.

Author(s) from Durham


We present a panoramic study of the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy, using data obtained as part of the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) ATLAS Survey. The data presented here – a subset of the full survey – uniformly cover a region of 25 deg2 centred on the galaxy, in g, r and i bands. This large area coverage reveals two key differences to previous studies of Fornax. First, data extending beyond the nominal tidal radius of the dwarf highlight the presence of a second distinct red giant branch population. This bluer red giant branch appears to be co-eval with the horizontal branch population. Secondly, a shell structure located approximately 1 ∘ .
4 from the centre of Fornax is shown to be a mis-identified background overdensity of galaxies. This last result casts further doubt on the hypothesis that Fornax underwent a gas-rich merger in its relatively recent past.