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The Triangulum–Andromeda stellar clouds (TriAnd1 and TriAnd2) are a pair of concentric ring- or shell-like overdensities at large R (≈30 kpc) and Z (≈−10 kpc) in the Galactic halo that are thought to have been formed from the accretion and disruption of a satellite galaxy. This paper critically reexamines this formation scenario by comparing the number ratio of RR Lyrae to M giant stars associated with the TriAnd clouds with other structures in the Galaxy. The current data suggest a stellar population for these overdensities (fRR: MG < 0.38 at 95 per cent confidence) quite unlike any of the known satellites of the Milky Way (fRR: MG ≈ 0.5 for the very largest and fRR: MG ≫ 1 for the smaller satellites) and more like the population of stars born in the much deeper potential well inhabited by the Galactic disc (fRR: MG < 0.01). N-body simulations of a Milky Way-like galaxy perturbed by the impact of a dwarf galaxy demonstrate that, in the right circumstances, concentric rings propagating outwards from that Galactic disc can plausibly produce similar overdensities. These results provide dramatic support for the recent proposal by Xu et al. that, rather than stars accreted from other galaxies, the TriAnd clouds could represent stars kicked out from our own disc. If so, these would be the first populations of disc stars to be found in the Galactic halo and a clear signature of the importance of this second formation mechanism for stellar haloes more generally. Moreover, their existence at the very extremities of the disc places strong constraints on the nature of the interaction that formed them.


This article originally appeared in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, available at



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