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The missing dwarf galaxies of the Local Group

Fattahi, Azadeh; Navarro, Julio F; Frenk, Carlos S

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Julio F Navarro


We study the Local Group (LG) dwarf galaxy population predicted by the APOSTLE ΛCDM cosmological hydrodynamics simulations. These indicate that: (i) the total mass within 3 Mpc of the Milky Way-Andromeda midpoint (M3Mpc) typically exceeds ∼3 times the sum of the virial masses (M200crit) of the two primaries and (ii) the dwarf galaxy formation efficiency per unit mass is uniform throughout the volume. This suggests that the satellite population within the virial radii of the Milky Way and Andromeda should make up fewer than one third of all LG dwarfs within 3 Mpc. This is consistent with the fraction of observed LG galaxies with stellar mass M* > 107 M⊙ that are satellites (12 out of 42; i.e., 28 per cent). For the APOSTLE galaxy mass-halo mass relation, the total number of such galaxies further suggests a LG mass of M3Mpc ∼ 1013 M⊙. At lower galaxy masses, however, the observed satellite fraction is substantially higher (42 per cent for M* > 105 M⊙). If this is due to incompleteness in the field sample, then ∼50 dwarf galaxies at least as massive as the Draco dwarf spheroidal must be missing from the current LG field dwarf inventory. The incompleteness interpretation is supported by the pronounced flattening of the LG luminosity function below M* ∼ 107 M⊙, and by the scarcity of low-surface brightness LG field galaxies compared to satellites. The simulations indicate that most missing dwarfs should lie near the virial boundaries of the two LG primaries, and predict a trove of nearby dwarfs that await discovery by upcoming wide-field imaging surveys.


Fattahi, A., Navarro, J. F., & Frenk, C. S. (2020). The missing dwarf galaxies of the Local Group. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 493(2), 2596-2605.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 5, 2020
Online Publication Date Feb 10, 2020
Publication Date Apr 30, 2020
Deposit Date Feb 10, 2020
Publicly Available Date Mar 6, 2020
Journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Print ISSN 0035-8711
Electronic ISSN 1365-2966
Publisher Royal Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 493
Issue 2
Pages 2596-2605


Published Journal Article (907 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society ©: 2020 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

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