We propose a new method for measuring the spatial density distribution of the stellar halo of the Milky Way. Our method is based on a pairwise statistic of the distribution of stars on the sky, the angular two-point correlation function (ATPCF). The ATPCF utilizes two dimensional data of stars only and is therefore immune to the large uncertainties in the determination of distances to stars. We test our method using mock stellar data coming from various models including the single power-law (SPL) and the broken power-law (BPL) density profiles. We also test the influence of axisymmetric flattening factors using both constant and varying values. We find that the ATPCF is a powerful tool for recovering the spatial distributions of the stellar halos in our models. We apply our method to bservational data from the type ab RR Lyrae catalog in the Catalina Survey Data Release 1. In the 3-parameter BPL model, we find that s1 = 2.46 +0.18 −0.20 , s2 = 3.99 +0.75 −1.33, and r0 = 31.11 +7.61 −5.88 , which are in good agreement with previous results. We also find that introducing an extra parameter, the radially varying flattening factor, greatly improves our ability to model accurately the observed data distribution. This implies perhaps that the stellar halo of the Milky Way should be regarded as oblate.
- data analysis
- fundamental parameters