Discovery of Diffuse Dwarf Galaxy Candidates around M101

P. Bennet, D. J. Sand, D. Crnojević, K. Spekkens, D. Zaritsky, A. Karunakaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We have conducted a search of a 9 deg2 region of the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope Legacy Survey around the Milky Way analog M101 (D ∼ 7 Mpc), in order to look for previously unknown low-surface-brightness galaxies. This search has uncovered 38 new low-surface-brightness dwarf candidates, and confirmed 11 previously reported galaxies, all with central surface brightness μ(g, 0) > 23 mag arcsec-2, potentially extending the satellite luminosity function for the M101 group by ∼1.2 mag. The search was conducted using an algorithm that nearly automates the detection of diffuse dwarf galaxies. The candidates' small sizes and low surface brightnesses mean that the faintest of these objects would likely be missed by traditional visual or computer detection techniques. The dwarf galaxy candidates span a range of -7.1 ≥ Mg ≥ -10.2 and half-light radii of 118-540 pc at the distance of M101, and they are well fit by simple Sérsic surface brightness profiles. These properties are consistent with dwarfs in the Local Group, and to match the Local Group luminosity function, ∼10-20 of these candidates should be satellites of M101. Association with a massive host is supported by the lack of detected star formation and the overdensity of candidates around M101 compared to the field. The spatial distribution of the dwarf candidates is highly asymmetric, and concentrated to the northeast of M101, therefore distance measurements will be required to determine if these are genuine members of the M101 group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2017


  • cosmology: observations
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: evolution
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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