Hubble space telescope proper motions along the Sagittarius stream. I. Observations and results for stars in four fields

Sangmo Tony Sohn, Roeland P.Van Der Marel, Jeffrey L. Carlin, Steven R. Majewski, Nitya Kallivayalil, David R. Law, Jay Anderson, Michael H. Siegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


We present a multi-epoch Hubble Space Telescope (HST) study of stellar proper motions (PMs) for four fields spanning 200° along the Sagittarius (Sgr) stream: one trailing arm field, one field near the Sgr dwarf spheroidal tidal radius, and two leading arm fields. We determine absolute PMs of dozens of individual stars per field, using established techniques that use distant background galaxies as the stationary reference frame. Stream stars are identified based on combined color-magnitude diagram and PM information. The results are broadly consistent with the few existing PM measurements for the Sgr galaxy and the trailing arm. However, our new results provide the highest PM accuracy for the stream to date, the first PM measurements for the leading arm, and the first PM measurements for individual stream stars; we also serendipitously determine the PM of the globular cluster NGC 6652. In the trailing-arm field, the individual PMs allow us to kinematically separate trailing-arm stars from leading-arm stars that are 360° further ahead in their orbit. Also, in three of our fields we find indications that two distinct kinematical components may exist within the same arm and wrap of the stream. Qualitative comparison of the HST data to the predictions of the Law & Majewski and Peñarrubia et al. N-body models show that the PM measurements closely follow the predicted trend with Sgr longitude. This provides a successful consistency check on the PM measurements, as well as on these N-body approaches (which were not tailored to fit any PM data).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number56
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 20 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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