SMASHing the LMC: Mapping a Ring-like Stellar Overdensity in the LMC Disk

Yumi Choi, David L. Nidever, Knut Olsen, Gurtina Besla, Robert D. Blum, Dennis Zaritsky, Maria Rosa L. Cioni, Roeland P. Van Der Marel, Eric F. Bell, L. Clifton Johnson, A. Katherina Vivas, Alistair R. Walker, Thomas J.L. De Boer, Noelia E.D. Noël, Antonela Monachesi, Carme Gallart, Matteo Monelli, Guy S. Stringfellow, Pol Massana, David Martinez-DelgadoRicardo R. Muñoz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


We explore the stellar structure of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) disk using data from the Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History and the Dark Energy Survey. We detect a ring-like stellar overdensity in the red clump star count map at a radius of ∼6°(∼5.2 kpc at the LMC distance) that is continuous over ∼270°in position angle and is only limited by the current data coverage. The overdensity shows an amplitude up to 2.5 times higher than that of the underlying smooth disk. This structure might be related to the multiple arms found by de Vaucouleurs. We find that the overdensity shows spatial correlation with intermediate-age star clusters, but not with young (<1 Gyr) main-sequence stars, indicating the stellar populations associated with the overdensity are intermediate in age or older. Our findings on the LMC overdensity can be explained by either of two distinct formation mechanisms of a ring-like overdensity: (1) the overdensity formed out of an asymmetric one-armed spiral wrapping around the LMC main body, which is induced by repeated encounters with the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) over the last Gyr, or (2) the overdensity formed very recently as a tidal response to a direct collision with the SMC. Although the measured properties of the overdensity alone cannot distinguish between the two candidate scenarios, the consistency with both scenarios suggests that the ring-like overdensity is likely a product of tidal interaction with the SMC, but not with the Milky Way halo.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number125
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 20 2018


  • Magellanic Clouds
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: interactions
  • galaxies: structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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