A few dozen dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way have been discovered, which are often viewed as the remaining building blocks of our Galaxy. The follow-up spectroscopy showed that dwarf galaxies have a sizeable spread in their metallicities. Several scenarios were suggested to explain the metallicity spread, which can be tested by the structural patterns of stellar subpopulations with distinct metallicities. However, such chemical plus structural examination, which we refer to as "chemostructural study,"is hindered by the lack of stars with spectroscopic metallicity. Here we propose the Ca-by photometry as an alternative way to secure metallicities for a 2-3 orders of magnitude larger stellar sample than the spectroscopic sample and thus enable us to perform a chemostructural study on dwarf galaxies. In particular, we use the hk index [≡(Ca - b) - (b - y)], whose validity as a photometric metallicity indicator (and crass insensitivity to age) for red-giant-branch stars was upheld via Galactic globular clusters, and observe three dwarf spheroidal galaxies - Draco, Sextans, and Canes Venatici I (CVnI) - with Subaru/Suprime-Cam. We find that in all the galaxies the metal-rich stellar populations are more centrally concentrated than the metal-poor counterparts, suggesting that the central regions of the galaxies underwent extended star formation. Such a negative radial metallicity gradient for Sextans and CVnI opposes the traditional spectroscopic results. We also find that their metallicity distribution functions (MDFs) can be characterized by a unimodal, skewed Gaussian shape with a metal-rich peak and a metal-poor tail. We discuss their features in the chemo-structure and MDF in terms of dwarf galaxy formation theories.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science