The Magellanic Clouds are nearby dwarf irregular galaxies whose morphologies show different properties when traced by different stellar populations, making them an important laboratory for studying galaxy morphologies. We study the morphology of the Magellanic Clouds using data from the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy survey of the Magellanic Clouds system. We used about 10 and 2.5 million sources across an area of ∼105 and ∼42 deg2 towards the Large and Small Magellanic Cloud (LMC and SMC), respectively. We estimated median ages of stellar populations occupying different regions of the near-infrared (J − Ks, Ks) colour–magnitude diagram. Morphological maps were produced and detailed features in the central regions were characterized for the first time with bins corresponding to a spatial resolution of 0.13 kpc (LMC) and 0.16 kpc (SMC). In the LMC, we find that main-sequence stars show coherent structures that grow with age and trace the multiple spiral arms of the galaxy, star-forming regions become dimmer as we progress in age, while supergiant stars are centrally concentrated. Intermediate-age stars, despite tracing a regular and symmetrical morphology, show central clumps and hints of spiral arms. In the SMC, young main-sequence stars depict a broken bar. Intermediate-age populations show signatures of elongation towards the Magellanic Bridge that can be attributed to the LMC–SMC interaction ∼200 Myr ago. They also show irregular central features suggesting that the inner SMC has also been influenced by tidal interactions.
Bibliographical noteThis article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 490, Issue 1, November 2019, Pages 1076–1093, https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz2400. Copyright 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
- Galaxies: interactions
- Galaxies: photometry
- Galaxies: stellar content
- Magellanic Clouds