Probing the outer galactic Halo with RR Lyrae from the catalina surveys

A. J. Drake, M. Catelan, S. G. Djorgovski, G. Torrealba, M. J. Graham, V. Belokurov, S. E. Koposov, A. Mahabal, J. L. Prieto, C. Donalek, R. Williams, S. Larson, E. Christensen, E. Beshore

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Scopus citations


We present analysis of 12,227 type-ab RR Lyraes (RRLs) found among the 200 million public light curves in Catalina Surveys Data Release 1. These stars span the largest volume of the Milky Way ever surveyed with RRLs, covering ∼20,000 deg2 of the sky (0° < α < 360°, -22° < δ < 65°) to heliocentric distances of up to 60 kpc. Each of the RRLs is observed between 60 and 419 times over a six-year period. Using period finding and Fourier fitting techniques we determine periods and apparent magnitudes for each source. We find that the periods are generally accurate to σ = 0.002% in comparison to 2842 previously known RRLs and 100 RRLs observed in overlapping survey fields. We photometrically calibrate the light curves using 445 Landolt standard stars and show that the resulting magnitudes are accurate to ∼0.05 mag using Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) data for ∼1000 blue horizontal branch stars and 7788 RRLs. By combining Catalina photometry with SDSS spectroscopy, we analyze the radial velocity and metallicity distributions for >1500 of the RRLs. Using the accurate distances derived for the RRLs, we show the paths of the Sagittarius tidal streams crossing the sky at heliocentric distances from 20 to 60 kpc. By selecting samples of Galactic halo RRLs, we compare their velocity, metallicity, and distance with predictions from a recent detailed N-body model of the Sagittarius system. We find that there are some significant differences between the distances and structures predicted and our observations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number32
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 20 2013


  • Galaxy: formation
  • Galaxy: stellar content
  • Galaxy: structure
  • galaxies: stellar content
  • stars: variables: RR Lyrae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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  • Galactic halo RRab stars from CSS

    Drake, A. J. (Creator), Catelan, M. (Creator), Djorgovski, S. G. (Creator), Torrealba, G. (Creator), Graham, M. J. (Creator), Belokurov, V. (Creator), Koposov, S. E. (Creator), Mahabal, A. (Creator), Prieto, J. L. (Creator), Donalek, C. (Creator), Williams, R. (Creator), Larson, S. (Creator), Christensen, E. (Creator), Beshore, E. (Creator), Drake, A. J. (Creator), Graham, M. J. (Creator), Prieto, J. L. (Creator), Williams, R. (Creator) & Larson, S. (Creator), Centre de Donnees Strasbourg (CDS), 2014


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