20-24 March 2023
Haus H, Telegrafenberg
Europe/Berlin timezone

The dynamical mass of the Large Magellanic Cloud as measured by its system of star clusters

23 Mar 2023, 11:15
Haus H, Telegrafenberg

Haus H, Telegrafenberg

Potsdam, Germany
Contributed talk SESSION 4 : The Magellanic System: the Clouds, the Stream and the Leading Arm SESSION 4 : The Magellanic System: the Clouds, the Stream and the Leading Arm


Florian Niederhofer (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP))


The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) are the largest and most luminous dwarf satellite companions of the Milky Way. Due to their close proximity, they provide a unique opportunity to study the dynamics of their resolved stellar populations in unparalleled detail. Within the last years, high-precision proper motion measurements of stars within the Magellanic Clouds had a tremendous impact on our understanding of the Magellanic system and its relation to our own Galaxy. To date, however, the dynamics of the star cluster systems within the two dwarf galaxies has not received much attention.
In this contribution, I will introduce an ongoing observational campaign conducted by our team utilising the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to precisely measure the proper motions of star clusters within the LMC. The exquisite resolution of HST allows us to measure precise proper motions of thousands of stars within each cluster.
The measured motions of the clusters, combined with photometric and spectroscopic measurements, will yield their full 6-dimensional phase space information within the LMC. I will present first results of the kinematic structures that are described by clusters of various ages and within different structural components of the galaxy. The motions of the clusters can further act as a tracer of the gravitational potential of the LMC and I will present preliminary measurements of the mass of the LMC resulting from the dynamics of the star clusters. Despite its importance in the field of Magellanic Cloud kinematics and evolution, the mass of the LMC is only vaguely known and several studies disagree on it. Our cluster-based study will provide an additional independent measurement of the LMC's mass.

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Primary author

Florian Niederhofer (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP))

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