Milky Way Satellite Census. I. The Observational Selection Function for Milky Way Satellites in DES Y3 and Pan-STARRS DR1 Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract We report the results of a systematic search for ultra-faint Milky Way satellite galaxies using data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and Pan-STARRS1 (PS1). Together, DES and PS1 provide multi-band photometry in optical/near-infrared wavelengths over 80% of the sky. Our search for satellite galaxies targets 25,000 deg2 of the high-Galactic-latitude sky reaching a 10 point-source depth of 22.5 mag in the g and r bands. While satellite galaxy searches have been performed independently on DES and PS1 before, this is the first time that a self-consistent search is performed across both data sets. We do not detect any new high-significance satellite galaxy candidates, recovering the majority of satellites previously detected in surveys of comparable depth. We characterize the sensitivity of our search using a large set of simulated satellites injected into the survey data. We use these simulations to derive both analytic and machine-learning models that accurately predict the detectability of Milky Way satellites as a function of their distance, size, luminosity, and location on the sky. To demonstrate the utility of this observational selection function, we calculate the luminosity function of Milky Way satellite galaxies, assuming that the known population of satellite galaxies is representative of the underlying distribution. We provide access to our observational selection function to facilitate comparisons with cosmological models of galaxy formation and evolution.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 60.9

author list (cited authors)

  • Drlica-Wagner, A., Bechtol, K., Mau, S., McNanna, M., Nadler, E. O., Pace, A. B., ... Tarle, G.

citation count

  • 131

complete list of authors

  • Drlica-Wagner, A||Bechtol, K||Mau, S||McNanna, M||Nadler, EO||Pace, AB||Li, TS||Pieres, A||Rozo, E||Simon, JD||Walker, AR||Wechsler, RH||Abbott, TMC||Allam, S||Annis, J||Bertin, E||Brooks, D||Burke, DL||Carnero Rosell, A||Kind, M Carrasco||Carretero, J||Costanzi, M||da Costa, LN||De Vicente, J||Desai, S||Diehl, HT||Doel, P||Eifler, TF||Everett, S||Flaugher, B||Frieman, J||Garcia-Bellido, J||Gaztanaga, E||Gruen, D||Gruendl, RA||Gschwend, J||Gutierrez, G||Honscheid, K||James, DJ||Krause, E||Kuehn, K||Kuropatkin, N||Lahav, O||Maia, MAG||Marshall, JL||Melchior, P||Menanteau, F||Miquel, R||Palmese, A||Plazas, AA||Sanchez, E||Scarpine, V||Schubnell, M||Serrano, S||Sevilla-Noarbe, I||Smith, M||Suchyta, E||Tarle, G

publication date

  • April 2020