Constraining the projected radial distribution of galactic satellites with the sloan digital sky survey

Jacqueline Chen, Andrey V. Kravtsov, Francisco Prada, Erin S. Sheldon, Anatoly A. Klypin, Michael R. Blanton, Jonathan Brinkmann, Aniruddha R. Thakar

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We use the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) spectroscopic sample to constrain the projected radial distribution of satellites around isolated ∼L* galaxies. We employ mock galaxy catalogs derived from high-resolution cosmological simulations to investigate the effects of interloper contamination and show that interlopers significantly bias the estimated slope of the projected radial distribution of satellites. We also show that the distribution of interlopers around galaxies is expected to be nonuniform in velocity space because galaxies are clustered and reside in crowded environments. Successful methods of interloper contamination correction should therefore take into account environments of the host galaxies. Two such new methods are presented, and the most reliable of them is used to correct for interloper contamination in analyses of the SDSS galaxy sample. The best-fit power-law slope of the interloper-corrected surface density distribution of satellites, ∑(R) ∝ Rα, in the volume-limited SDSS sample is α ≃ -1.7 ± 0.1, independent of the galaxy and satellite luminosities. Comparison with ACDM simulations shows that the radial distribution of the SDSS satellites is more concentrated than that of subhalos around galaxy-sized halos, especially at R < 100 h-1 kpc. The predicted dark matter radial distribution is somewhat more concentrated than the profile of the SDSS satellites, but the difference is not statistically significant for our sample.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)86-101
    Number of pages16
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number1 I
    StatePublished - Aug 10 2006


    • Cosmology: theory
    • Dark matter
    • Galaxies: formation
    • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
    • Galaxies: structure

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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