Mapping the outer bulge with RRab stars from the VVV Survey

F. Gran, D. Minniti, R. K. Saito, M. Zoccali, O. A. Gonzalez, C. Navarrete, M. Catelan, R. Contreras Ramos, F. Elorrieta, S. Eyheramendy, A. Jordan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


The VISTA Variables in the Viá Láctea (VVV) is a near-IR time-domain survey of the Galactic bulge and southern plane. One of the main goals of this survey is to reveal the 3D structure of the MilkyWay through their variable stars. In particular, enormous numbers of RR Lyrae stars have been discovered in the inner regions of the bulge (-8° ≲ b ≲-1°) by optical surveys such as OGLE and MACHO, but leaving an unexplored window of more than ∼47 sq deg (-10.0° ≲ ℓ ≲ +10.7° and-10.3° ≲ b ≲-8:0°) observed by the VVV Survey. Aims. Our goal is to characterize the RR Lyrae stars in the outer bulge in terms of their periods, amplitudes, Fourier coe°cients, and distances in order to evaluate the 3D structure of the bulge in this area. The distance distribution of RR Lyrae stars will be compared to that of red clump stars, which is known to trace a X-shaped structure, in order to determine whether these two different stellar populations share the same Galactic distribution. Methods. A search for RR Lyrae stars was performed in more than ∼47 sq deg at low Galactic latitudes (-10.3° ≲ b ≲-8:0°). In the procedure the χ2 value and analysis of variance (AoV) statistic methods were used to determine the variability and periodic features of the light curves, respectively. To prevent misclassifications, the analysis was performed only on the fundamental mode RR Lyrae stars (RRab) owing to similarities found in the near-IR light curve shapes of contact eclipsing binaries (W UMa) and first overtone RR Lyrae stars (RRc). On the other hand, the red clump stars of the same analyzed tiles were selected, and cuts in the color-magnitude diagram were applied and the maximum distance restricted to ∼ 20 kpc in order to construct a similar catalog in terms of distances and covered area compared to the RR Lyrae stars. Results. We report the detection of more than 1000 RR Lyrae ab-type stars in the VVV Survey located in the outskirts of the Galactic bulge. A few of them are possibly associated with the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal Galaxy.We calculated colours, reddening, extinction, and distances of the detected RR Lyrae stars in order to determine the outer bulge 3D structure. Our main result is that, at the low galactic latitudes mapped here, the RR Lyrae stars trace a centrally concentrated spheroidal distribution. This is a noticeably different spatial distribution to the one traced by red clump stars known to follow a bar and X-shaped structure. We estimate the completeness of our sample at 80% for Ks ≤ 15 mag.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA145
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Galaxy: bulge
  • Galaxy: stellar content
  • Galaxy: structure
  • Infrared: stars
  • Stars: variables: RR Lyrae
  • Surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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