SMASHing the LMC: A Tidally Induced Warp in the Outer LMC and a Large-scale Reddening Map

Yumi Choi, David L. Nidever, Knut Olsen, Robert D. Blum, Gurtina Besla, Dennis Zaritsky, Roeland P. Van Der Marel, Eric F. Bell, Carme Gallart, Maria Rosa L. Cioni, L. Clifton Johnson, A. Katherina Vivas, Abhijit Saha, Thomas J.L. De Boer, Noelia E.D. Noël, Antonela Monachesi, Pol Massana, Blair C. Conn, David Martinez-Delgado, Ricardo R. MuñozGuy S. Stringfellow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


We present a study of the three-dimensional (3D) structure of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) using ∼2.2 million red clump (RC) stars selected from the Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History. To correct for line-of-sight dust extinction, the intrinsic RC color and magnitude and their radial dependence are carefully measured by using internal nearly dust-free regions. These are then used to construct an accurate 2D reddening map (165 deg2 area with ∼10′ resolution) of the LMC disk and the 3D spatial distribution of RC stars. An inclined disk model is fit to the 2D distance map, yielding a best-fit inclination angle degrees with random errors of ±0.°19 and line-of-nodes position angle degrees with random errors of ±0.°49. These angles vary with galactic radius, indicating that the LMC disk is warped and twisted likely due to the repeated tidal interactions with the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC). For the first time, our data reveal a significant warp in the southwestern part of the outer disk starting at ρ ∼ 7° that departs from the defined LMC plane up to ∼4 kpc toward the SMC, suggesting that it originated from a strong interaction with the SMC. In addition, the inner disk encompassing the off-centered bar appears to be tilted up to 5°-15° relative to the rest of the LMC disk. These findings on the outer warp and the tilted bar are consistent with the predictions from the Besla et al. simulation of a recent direct collision with the SMC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number90
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 20 2018


  • Magellanic Clouds Supporting material: data behind figures
  • galaxies: ISM
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: interactions
  • galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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