We present evidence for a ring of stars in the plane of the Milky Way, extending at least from l = 180° to 227° with turnoff magnitude g ∼ 19.5; the ring could encircle the Galaxy. We infer that the low Galactic latitude structure is at a fairly constant distance of R = 18 ± 2 kpc from the Galactic center above the Galactic plane and has R = 20 ± 2 kpc in the region sampled below the Galactic plane. The evidence includes 500 Sloan Digital Sky Survey spectroscopic radial velocities of stars within 30° of the plane. The velocity dispersion of the stars associated with this structure is found to be 27 km s-1 at (l, b) = (198°, -27°), 22 km s-1 at (l, b) = (225°, 28°), 30 km s-1 at (l, b) = (188°, 24°), and 30 km s-1 at (l, b) = (182°, 27°). The structure rotates in the same prograde direction as the Galactic disk stars but with a circular velocity of 110 ± 25 km s-1. The narrow measured velocity dispersion is inconsistent with power-law spheroid or thick-disk populations. We compare the velocity dispersion in this structure with the velocity dispersion of stars in the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy tidal stream, for which we measure a velocity dispersion of 20 km s-1 at (l, b) = (165°, -55°). We estimate a preliminary metallicity from the Ca II (K) line and color of the turnoff stars of [Fe/H] = -1.6 with a dispersion of 0.3 dex and note that the turnoff color is consistent with that of the spheroid population. We interpret our measurements as evidence for a tidally disrupted satellite of 2 × 107 to 5 × 10 8 M⊙ that rings the Galaxy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science