We have obtained V- and I-band photometry for 1886 stars down to I = 27 and V = 28 in the field of the dwarf irregular galaxy WLM, using deep Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) CL- and LP-band images taken in the parallel mode with the Hubble Space Telescope. The photometry is used to study the horizontal branch identified in WLM. The horizontal branch, extending blueward from the red giant clump, is an unambiguous signature of an old population. We demonstrate that it is possible to reach the horizontal branch of an old population at a distance of ≃1 Mpc using STIS, with relatively short exposure times. From the VI color-magnitude diagram, we obtain an accurate distance modulus (m - M)0 = 24.95 ± 0.13 for WLM by using the V magnitude of the horizontal branch, and by adopting E(V - I) = 0.03. The implications are that (1) WLM formed stars at high redshift and (2) the old population of WLM can be representative of a protogalactic fragment, related to those accreted to form the Milky Way halo.
Áreas temáticas de ASJC Scopus
- Astronomía y astrofísica
- Ciencias planetarias y espacial