Astrophysical Journal Letters
We report on the discovery of the most distant Milky Way (MW) stars known to date: ULAS J001535.72+015549.6 and ULAS J074417.48+253233.0. These stars were selected as M giant candidates based on their infrared and optical colors and lack of proper motions. We spectroscopically confirmed them as outer halo giants using the MMT/Red Channel spectrograph. Both stars have large estimated distances, with ULAS J001535.72+015549.6 at 274 ± 74 kpc and ULAS J074417.48+253233.0 at 238 ± 64 kpc, making them the first MW stars discovered beyond 200 kpc. ULAS J001535.72+015549.6 and ULAS J074417.48+253233.0 are both moving away from the Galactic center at 52 ± 10 km s–1 and 24 ± 10 km s–1, respectively. Using their distances and kinematics, we considered possible origins such as: tidal stripping from a dwarf galaxy, ejection from the MW's disk, or membership in an undetected dwarf galaxy. These M giants, along with two inner halo giants that were also confirmed during this campaign, are the first to map largely unexplored regions of our Galaxy's outer halo.
Faculty Start Year
John J. Bochanski, Beth Willman, Nelson Caldwell, Robyn Sanderson, Andrew A. West, Jay Strader, and Warren Brown. "The Most Distant Stars in the Milky Way." ApJL 790 (1): L5. 2014.