Magellanic System Stars Identified in SMACS J0723.3-7327 James Webb Space Telescope Early Release Observations Images

Jake Summers, Rogier A. Windhorst, Seth H. Cohen, Rolf A. Jansen, Timothy Carleton, Patrick S. Kamieneski, Benne W. Holwerda, Christopher J. Conselice, Nathan J. Adams, Brenda L. Frye, Jose M. Diego, Christopher N.A. Willmer, Rafael Ortiz, Cheng Cheng, Alex Pigarelli, Aaron Robotham, Jordan C.J. D’Silva, Scott Tompkins, Simon P. Driver, Haojing YanDan Coe, Norman Grogin, Anton M. Koekemoer, Madeline A. Marshall, Nor Pirzkal, Russell E. Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We identify 71 distant stars in James Webb Space Telescope/NIRCam early release observations (ERO) images of the field of galaxy cluster SMACS J0723.3-7327 (SMACS 0723). Given the relatively small (∼10°) angular separation between SMACS 0723 and the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), it is likely that these stars are associated with the LMC outskirts or the Leading Arm. This is further bolstered by a spectral energy distribution (SED) analysis, which suggests an excess of stars at a physical distance of 40-100 kpc, consistent with being associated with or located behind the Magellanic system. In particular, we find that the overall surface density of stars brighter than 27.0 mag in the field of SMACS 0723 is ∼2.3 times that of stars in a blank field with similar Galactic latitude (the North Ecliptic Pole Time Domain Field), and that the density of stars in the SMACS 0723 field with SED-derived distances consistent with the Magellanic system is ∼6.1 times larger than that of the blank field. The candidate stars at these distances are consistent with a stellar population at the same distance modulus with [Fe/H] = −1.0 and an age of ∼5.0 Gyr. On the assumption that all of the 71 stars are associated with the LMC, then the stellar density of the LMC at the location of the SMACS 0723 field is ∼740 stars kpc−3, which helps trace the density of stars in the LMC outskirts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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