Uncovering the orbit of the hercules dwarf galaxy

Alexandra L. Gregory, Michelle L.M. Collins, Denis Erkal, Erik Tollerud, Maxime Delorme, Lewis Hill, David J. Sand, Jay Strader, Beth Willman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


We present new chemo-kinematics of the Hercules dwarf galaxy based on Keck II-DEIMOS spectroscopy. Our 21 confirmed members, including 9 newly confirmed members, have a systemic velocity of vHerc = 46.4 ± 1.3 km s−1 and a velocity dispersion σv,Herc = 4.4+1142 km s−1, consistent with previous studies. From the strength of the Ca II triplet, we obtain a metallicity of [Fe/H] = −2.48 ± 0.19 dex and dispersion of σ[Fe/H] = 0.63+001813 dex. This result is within 1σ of previous measurements, and makes Hercules a particularly metal-poor galaxy, placing it slightly below the standard mass–metallicity relation. Previous photometric and spectroscopic evidence suggests that Hercules is tidally disrupting and may be on a highly radial orbit. From our identified members, we measure no significant velocity gradient. By cross-matching with the second Gaia data release, we determine an uncertainty-weighted mean proper motion of μα = μα cos(δ) = −0.153 ± 0.074 mas yr−1, μδ = −0.397 ± 0.063 mas yr−1. This proper motion is slightly misaligned with the elongation of Hercules, in contrast to models which suggest that any tidal debris should be well aligned with the orbital path. Future observations may resolve this tension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1092-1104
Number of pages13
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Galaxies: dwarf
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Galaxies: interactions
  • Galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • Local Group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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