Survey of the MAgellanic Stellar History -- SMASH

David Nidever, Knut Olsen, Gurtina Besla, Robert Gruendl, Abhijit Saha, Carme Gallart, Edward W. Olszewski, Ricardo Munoz, Matteo Monelli, Andrea Kunder, Catherine Kaleida, Alistair Walker, Guy Stringfellow, Dennis Zaritsky, Roeland van der Marel, Robert Blum, Kathy Vivas, You-Hua Chu, Nicolas Martin, Blair ConnNoelia Noel, Steven Majewski, Shoko Jin, Hwihyun Kim, Maria-Rosa Cioni, Eric Bell, Antonela Monachesi, Thomas de Boer

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialAcademic


Over the last several years, various discoveries have drastically altered our view of the iconic Magellanic Clouds (MCs), the nearest interacting galaxy system. The best evidence is now that they are on first infall into the Milky Way, that their stellar populations extend much further than previously thought, and that they suffered a close collision that tore out both the well-known Magellanic Stream and a large amount of still undetected stellar debris. Here we propose a community DECam survey of the Clouds mapping 480 deg^2 (distributed over 2400 deg^2 at 20% filling factor) to 24th mag griz (and u$ 23) that will supplement the 5000 deg^2 Dark Energy Survey's partial coverage of the Magellanic periphery, allowing us to map the expected stellar debris and extended populations with unprecedented fidelity. We have already conducted a pilot project demonstrating that DECam will allow us to: (1) Map the stellar periphery of the MCs with old main-sequence turnoff stars to a surface brightness limit of 35 mag/arcsec^2, revealing relics of their formation and past interactions. (2) Identify the stellar component of the Magellanic Stream and Leading Arm for the first time, if they exist, making them the only Galactic halo tracers with both gaseous and stellar components. (3) Derive spatially-resolved star formation histories covering all ages out to large radii of the MCs that will further complement our understanding of their formation. The combination of this survey and DES data will allow us to uncover a multitude of stellar structure that will unveil the complex and dramatic history of these two dwarf galaxies, while enabling a broad spectrum of community-led projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2013
JournalNOAO Proposal
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2013

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