The Missing satellite problem outside of the local group. I. Pilot observation

Masayuki Tanaka, Masashi Chiba, Kohei Hayashi, Yutaka Komiyama, Takashi Okamoto, Andrew P. Cooper, Sakurako Okamoto, Lee Spitler

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We present results from a pilot observation of nearby (∼20 Mpc) galaxies with masses similar to that of the Milky Way (MW) to address the missing satellite problem. This is the first paper from an ongoing project to address the problem with a statistical sample of galaxies outside of the Local Group (LG) without employing an assumption that the LG is a typical halo in the universe. Thanks to the close distances of our targets, dwarf galaxies around them can be identified as extended, diffuse galaxies. By applying a surface brightness cut together with a careful visual screening to remove artifacts and background contamination, we construct a sample of dwarf galaxies. The luminosity function (LF) of one of the targets is broadly consistent with that of the MW, but the other has a more abundant dwarf population. Numerical simulations by Okamoto seem to overpredict the number of dwarfs on average, while more recent predictions from Copernicus Complexio are in better agreement. In both observations and simulations, there is a large diversity in the LFs, demonstrating the importance of addressing the missing satellite problem with a statistically representative sample. We also characterize the projected spatial distributions of the satellites and do not observe strong evidence for alignments around the central galaxies. Based on this successful pilot observation, we are carrying out further observations to increase the sample of nearby galaxies, which we plan to report in our future paper.

Original languageEnglish
Article number125
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2018 The American Astronomical Society. First published in the Astrophysical journal, 865(2), 125, 2018, published by IOP Publishing. The original publication is available at Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • cosmology: observations
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • galaxies: luminosity function
  • mass function


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