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The Magellanic Stream at 20 kpc: A New Orbital History for the Magellanic Clouds

Presentation #201.01 in the session Cosmological Footprints in Local Group dynamics.

Published onApr 25, 2022
The Magellanic Stream at 20 kpc: A New Orbital History for the Magellanic Clouds

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) has had an enormous impact on the evolution and dynamics of the Milky Way (MW). Understanding the orbital history of the LMC, as well as its partner the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), is crucial to more precisely constrain the dynamics and evolution of the Milky Way and the Local Group. Using high resolution hydrodynamic simulations, we have recently determined a new possible orbital history for the Magellanic Clouds consistent with their present day observed proper motions that is able to recreate the Magellanic Stream, the massive gaseous structure trailing behind the Clouds. Most interestingly, the Stream formed through this new orbital history reaches as close as 20 kpc from the Sun (contrasting with previous models predicting distances of 100-200 kpc and beyond). This nearby Stream could fall onto the MW disk in as little as 50 Myrs, and with ~109 Msun of total gas this could drastically change the structure of our Galaxy. We could test the prediction of a 20 kpc Stream by searching for UV absorption lines towards distant MW halo stars projected onto the Stream. In this talk, I will present these new models and discuss some of the many implications of this new paradigm for the Magellanic Stream.


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