Exploring the Very Extended Low-surface-brightness Stellar Populations of the Large Magellanic Cloud with SMASH




Nidever, David L
Olsen, Knut A. G.
Choi, Yumi
de Boer, Thomas J. L.
Blum, Robert D.
Bell, Eric F
Zaritsky, D
Martin, Nicolas F
Saha, Abhijit
Conn, Blair

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IOP Publishing


We present the detection of very extended stellar populations around the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) out to R ~ 21°, or ~18.5 kpc at the LMC distance of 50 kpc, as detected in the Survey of the Magellanic Stellar History (SMASH) performed with the Dark Energy Camera on the NOAO Blanco 4 m Telescope. The deep (g ~ 24) SMASH color–magnitude diagrams (CMDs) clearly reveal old (~9 Gyr), metal-poor ([Fe/H] ≈ −0.8 dex) main-sequence stars at a distance of ~50 kpc. The surface brightness of these detections is extremely low with our most distant detection at Σ g ≈ 34 mag arcsec−2. The SMASH radial density profile breaks from the inner LMC exponential decline at ~13°–15° and a second component at larger radii has a shallower slope with power-law index α = −2.2 that contributes ~0.4% of the LMC's total stellar mass. In addition, the SMASH densities exhibit large scatter around our best-fit model of ~70% indicating that the envelope of stellar material in the LMC periphery is highly disturbed. We also use data from the NOAO Source catalog to map the LMC main-sequence populations at intermediate radii and detect a steep dropoff in density on the eastern side of the LMC (at R ≈ 8°) as well as an extended structure to the far northeast. These combined results confirm the existence of a very extended, low-density envelope of stellar material with a disturbed shape around the LMC. The exact origin of this structure remains unclear, but the leading options include an accreted halo or tidally stripped outer disk material.



galaxies: dwarf, galaxies: halos, galaxies: individual (Large Magellanic Cloud) –, Local Group, Magellanic Clouds



The Astrophysical Journal


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