We report the discovery of a stellar bridge consisting of the young population of stars, that forms a continuous connection between the Magellanic Clouds. This finding is based on number density maps for the young, intermediate-age, and old populations, in the region between the Magellanic Clouds, called the Magellanic Bridge. The maps are based on data gathered in the fourth phase of the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE-IV) and fully cover over 270 square degrees of the sky in the Magellanic Bridge area. This is the most extensive optical survey of this region up to date.
We find that the young population is present mainly in the western half of the Magellanic Bridge, which is consistent with previous findings. However, we discover a significant young population in the eastern part of the classical Bridge region, connecting both galaxies along δ≈-73.5 deg, thus showing that the Magellanic Bridge contains a continuous stream of stars. We also find that the young population distribution is clumped, with one of the major densities close to the SMC (α≈2 h, δ≈-74 deg), and the other, fairly isolated and located approximately mid-way between the Clouds (α≈2.9 h, δ≈-73.5 deg), which we call the OGLE island. These overdensities are well matched by HI surface density contours, although the newly found young population in the eastern Bridge is offset by ≈2 deg north from the highest HI density contour.
We observe a continuity of red clump stars between the Magellanic Clouds, which represent an intermediate-age population. Red clump stars are present mainly in the southern and central parts of the Magellanic Bridge, below its gaseous part, and their presence is reflected by a strong deviation from the radial density profiles of the two galaxies. This may indicate either a tidal stream of stars, or that the stellar halos of the two galaxies overlap. On the other hand, we do not observe such an overlap within an intermediate-age population represented by the top of the red giant branch and the asymptotic giant branch stars. We also see only minor mixing of the old populations of the Clouds in the southern part of the Bridge, represented by the lowest part of the red giant branch.
Spatial density map of the Young Population stars in the Magellanic Bridge region, in a Hammer equal-area projection centered at α=3.3 h and δ=-70 deg. The color-coded value of each "pixel" is a logarithm of the number of stars per square degree area, while each "pixel" area is approximately 0.335 deg2. A median background level was estimated from 40 most southern fields to be 1 star/deg2 with a standard deviation of 6 stars/deg2. Detections weaker than 2σ above the median background level have been given the background color. All number densities are listed in Table (see below). An approximate location of the LMC disk and the main stellar body of the SMC are marked with white ellipses. The white cross marks the SMC center of the outer SMC population found by Nidever et al. (2011). Color contours mark neutral hydrogen (HI) emission integrated over the velocity range 80<v<400 km/s, where each contour represents the HI column density twice as large as the neighboring contour. HI column densities are in the range 1020-4×1021 cm-2. Data were taken from the LAB survey of Galactic HI (Kalberla et al. 2005).
Computer readable Table 2 from the Paper is available for download here: table2.dat
|α||δ||l||b||YP||RC||RGB top||RGB mid||RGB low|
|see whole Table|
PLEASE cite the following paper when using the data or referring to these OGLE results:
Skowron et al., 2014, The Astrophysical Journal, 795, 108, arXiv:1405.7364
Any comments about the data and the form of their presentation are welcome as they can improve the future releases of OGLE analysis. Send your messages to this address.