VVV survey near-infrared photometry of known bulge RR Lyrae stars: The distance to the galactic center and absence of a barred distribution of the metal-poor population

I. Dékány, D. Minniti, M. Catelan, M. Zoccali, R. K. Saito, M. Hempel, O. A. Gonzalez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We have combined optical and near-infrared data of known RR Lyrae (RRL) stars in the bulge in order to study the spatial distribution of its metal-poor component by measuring precise reddening values and distances of 7663 fundamental-mode RRL stars with high-quality photometry. We obtain a distance to the Galactic center of R 0 = 8.33 ± 0.05 ± 0.14 kpc. We find that the spatial distribution of the RRL stars differs from the structures traced by the predominantly metal-rich red clump (RC) stars. Unlike the RC stars, the RRL stars do not trace a strong bar, but have a more spheroidal, centrally concentrated distribution, showing only a slight elongation in its very center. We find a hint of bimodality in the density distribution at high southern latitudes (b < -5°), which needs to be confirmed by extending the areal coverage of the current census. The different spatial distributions of the metal-rich and metal-poor stellar populations suggest that the Milky Way has a composite bulge.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL19
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume776
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2013

Keywords

  • Galaxy: bulge
  • Galaxy: stellar content
  • Galaxy: structure
  • stars: variables: RR Lyrae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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