Introducing the LBT Imaging of Galactic Halos and Tidal Structures (LIGHTS) survey: A preview of the low surface brightness Universe to be unveiled by LSST

Ignacio Trujillo, Mauro D'Onofrio, Dennis Zaritsky, Alberto Madrigal-Aguado, Nushkia Chamba, Giulia Golini, Mohammad Akhlaghi, Zahra Sharbaf, Raúl Infante-Sainz, Javier Román, Carlos Morales-Socorro, David J. Sand, Garreth Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We present the first results of the LBT Imaging of Galaxy Haloes and Tidal Structures (LIGHTS) survey. LIGHTS is an ongoing observational campaign with the 2 × 8.4 m Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) aiming to explore the stellar haloes and the low surface brightness population of satellites down to a depth of μV ∼31 mag arcsec-2 (3σ in 10″ × 10″ boxes) of nearby galaxies. We simultaneously collected deep imaging in the g and r Sloan filters using the Large Binocular Cameras. The resulting images are 60 times (i.e. ∼4.5 mag) deeper than those from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and they have characteristics comparable (in depth and spatial resolution) to the ones expected from the future Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST). Here we show the first results of our pilot programme targeting NGC 1042 (an M 33 analogue at a distance of 13.5 Mpc) and its surroundings. The depth of the images allowed us to detect an asymmetric stellar halo in the outskirts of this galaxy whose mass (1.4 ± 0.4 × 108 M) is in agreement with the ΛCDM expectations. Additionally, we show that deep imaging from the LBT reveals low mass satellites (a few times 105 M) with very faint central surface brightness μV(0) ∼27 mag arcsec-2 (i.e. similar to Local Group dwarf spheroidals, such as Andromeda XIV or Sextans, but at distances well beyond the local volume). The depth and spatial resolution provided by the LIGHTS survey open up a unique opportunity to explore the 'missing satellites' problem in a large variety of galaxies beyond our Local Group down to masses where the difference between the theory and observation (if any) should be significant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA40
JournalAstronomy and astrophysics
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Dark matter
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: formation
  • Galaxies: halos
  • Galaxies: photometry
  • Galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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