Internal kinematics of the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy

Matthew G. Walker, Mario Mateo, Edward W. Olszewski, Rebecca Bernstein, Xiao Wang, Michael Woodroofe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Scopus citations


We present new radial velocity results for 176 stars in the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy, of which at least 156 are probable Fornax members. We combine with previously published data to obtain a radial velocity sample with 206 stars, of which at least 176 are probable Fornax members. We detect the hint of rotation about an axis near Fornax's morphological minor axis, although the significance of the rotation signal in the galactic rest frame is sensitive to the adopted value of Fornax's proper motion. Regardless, the observed stellar kinematics is dominated by random motions, and we do not find kinematic evidence of tidal disruption. The projected velocity dispersion profile of the binned data set remains flat over the sampled region, which reaches a maximum angular radius of 65′. Single-component King models in which mass follows light fail to reproduce the observed flatness of the velocity dispersion profile. Two-component (luminous plus dark matter) models can reproduce the data, provided that the dark component extends sufficiently beyond the luminous component and the central dark matter density is of the same order as the central luminous density. These requirements suggest a more massive, darker Fornax than standard core-fitting analyses have previously concluded, with M/L V over the sampled region reaching 10-40 times the M/L V of the luminous component. We also apply a nonparametric mass estimation technique, introduced in a companion paper. Although it is designed to operate on data sets containing velocities for >1000 stars, the estimation yields preliminary results suggesting M/L V ∼ 15 inside r < 1.5 kpc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2114-2139
Number of pages26
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2006


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: individual (Fornax)
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Local Group
  • Methods: statistical
  • Techniques: radial velocities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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