find catastrophes in the stellar distribution

In Zolotov et al (2011) we asked the question: Might tiny dwarf galaxy Willman 1 be just a cusp in the stellar distribution of the Milky Way? If you generically have lines and sheets in phase space—and we very strongly believe that the Milky Way does—then generically you will have folds in those (in non-trivial projections they are required), and those folds generically produce catastrophes (localized regions of very high density) of various kinds (folds, cusps, swallowtails, and so on), which could mimic gravitationally bound or recently disrupted overdensities in the stellar distribution. The cool thing is that the catastrophes have quantitative two-dimensional morphologies that are very strongly constrained by mathematics (not just physics). The likelihood test we did in the Zolotov paper could easily be expanded into a search technique, maybe with some color-magnitude-diagram filtering mixed in. The catastrophes pretty much have to be there so get ready to get rich and famous! If you go there, send email to Scott Tremaine (IAS), who first proposed this idea to me.

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