skip to main content

Title: The chemical nature of the young 120-Myr-old nearby Pisces–Eridanus stellar stream flowing through the Galactic disc
ABSTRACT Recently, a new cylindrical-shaped stream of stars up to 700 pc long was discovered hiding in the Galactic disc using kinematic data enabled by the Gaia mission. This stream of stars, dubbed Pisces–Eridanus (Psc–Eri), was initially thought to be as old as 1 Gyr, yet its stars shared a rotation period distribution consistent with a population that was 120 Myr old. Here, we explore the detailed chemical nature of this stellar stream. We carried out high-resolution spectroscopic follow-up of 42 Psc–Eri stars using McDonald Observatory and combined these data with information for 40 members observed with the low-resolution LAMOST spectroscopic survey. Together, these data enabled us to measure the abundance distribution of light/odd-Z (Li, Na, Al, Sc, V), α (Mg, Si, Ca, Ti), Fe-peak (Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn), and neutron capture (Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Nd, Eu) elements along the Psc–Eri stream. We find that the stream is (1) near-solar metallicity with [Fe/H] = –0.03 dex and (2) has a metallicity spread of 0.07 dex (or 0.04 dex when outliers are excluded). We also find that (3) the abundance of Li indicates that Psc–Eri is ∼120 Myr old, consistent with its gyrochronology age. Additionally, Psc–Eri has (4) [X/Fe] abundance spreads more » that are just larger than the typical uncertainty in most elements, (5) it is a cylindrical-like system whose outer edges rotate about the centre, and (6) no significant abundance gradients along its major axis except a potentially weak gradient in [Si/Fe]. These results show that Psc–Eri is a uniquely close young chemically interesting laboratory for testing our understanding of star and planet formation. « less
; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
2422 to 2435
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The S2 stream is a kinematically cold stream that is plunging downwards through the Galactic disc. It may be part of a hotter and more diffuse structure called the Helmi stream. We present a multi-instrument chemical analysis of the stars in the metal-poor S2 stream using both high- and low-resolution spectroscopy, complemented with a re-analysis of the archival data to give a total sample of 62 S2 members. Our high-resolution program provides α-elements (C, Mg, Si, Ca and Ti), iron-peak elements (V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni), n-capture process elements (Sr, Ba) and other elements such as Li, Na, Al,more »and Sc for a subsample of S2 objects. We report coherent abundance patterns over a large metallicity spread (∼1 dex) confirming that the S2 stream was produced by a disrupted dwarf galaxy. The combination of S2’s α-elements displays a mildly decreasing trend with increasing metallicity which can be tentatively interpreted as a “knee” at [Fe/H]<−2. At the low metallicity end, the n-capture elements in S2 may be dominated by r-process production however several stars are Ba-enhanced, but unusually poor in Sr. Moreover, some of the low-[Fe/H] stars appear to be carbon-enhanced. We interpret the observed abundance patterns with the help of chemical evolution models that demonstrate the need for modest star-formation efficiency and low wind efficiency confirming that the progenitor of S2 was a primitive dwarf galaxy.« less

    One of the high-level goals of Galactic archaeology is chemical tagging of stars across the Milky Way to piece together its assembly history. For this to work, stars born together must be uniquely chemically homogeneous. Wide binary systems are an important laboratory to test this underlying assumption. Here, we present the detailed chemical abundance patterns of 50 stars across 25 wide binary systems comprised of main-sequence stars of similar spectral type identified in Gaia DR2 with the aim of quantifying their level of chemical homogeneity. Using high-resolution spectra obtained with McDonald Observatory, we derive stellar atmospheric parameters and precise detailedmore »chemical abundances for light/odd-Z (Li, C, Na, Al, Sc, V, Cu), α (Mg, Si, Ca), Fe-peak (Ti, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn), and neutron capture (Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Nd, Eu) elements. Results indicate that 80 per cent (20 pairs) of the systems are homogeneous in [Fe/H] at levels below 0.02 dex. These systems are also chemically homogeneous in all elemental abundances studied, with offsets and dispersions consistent with measurement uncertainties. We also find that wide binary systems are far more chemically homogeneous than random pairings of field stars of similar spectral type. These results indicate that wide binary systems tend to be chemically homogeneous but in some cases they can differ in their detailed elemental abundances at a level of [X/H] ∼ 0.10 dex, overall implying chemical tagging in broad strokes can work.

    « less
  3. ABSTRACT NGC 6402 is among the most massive globular clusters in the Galaxy, but little is known about its detailed chemical composition. Therefore, we obtained radial velocities and/or chemical abundances of 11 elements for 41 red giant branch stars using high resolution spectra obtained with the Magellan-M2FS instrument. We find NGC 6402 to be only moderately metal-poor with 〈[Fe/H]〉 = −1.13 dex (σ = 0.05 dex) and to have a mean heliocentric radial velocity of −61.1 km s−1 (σ = 8.5 km s−1). In general, NGC 6402 exhibits mean composition properties that are similar to other inner Galaxy clusters, such as [α/Fe] ∼+0.3 dex, [Cr,Ni/Fe] ∼more »0.0 dex, and 〈[La/Eu]〉 = −0.08 dex. Similarly, we find large star-to-star abundance variations for O, Na, Mg, Al, and Si that are indicative of gas that experienced high temperature proton-capture burning. Interestingly, we not only detect three distinct populations but also find large gaps in the [O/Fe], [Na/Fe], and [Al/Fe] distributions that may provide the first direct evidence of delayed formation for intermediate composition stars. A qualitative enrichment model is discussed where clusters form stars through an early ($\lesssim$5–10 Myr) phase, which results in first generation and ‘extreme’ composition stars, and a delayed phase ($\gtrsim$40 Myr), which results in the dilution of processed and pristine gas and the formation of intermediate composition stars. For NGC 6402, the missing intermediate composition stars suggest the delayed phase terminated prematurely, and as a result the cluster may uniquely preserve details of the chemical enrichment process.« less
  4. Abstract We use deep narrowband CaHK (F395N) imaging taken with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to construct the metallicity distribution function (MDF) of Local Group ultra-faint dwarf galaxy Eridanus II (Eri II ). When combined with archival F475W and F814W data, we measure metallicities for 60 resolved red giant branch stars as faint as m F475W ∼ 24 mag, a factor of ∼4× more stars than current spectroscopic MDF determinations. We find that Eri II has a mean metallicity of [Fe/H] = −2.50 − 0.07 + 0.07 and a dispersion of σ [ Fe / H ] = 0.42 −more »0.06 + 0.06 , which are consistent with spectroscopic MDFs, though more precisely constrained owing to a larger sample. We identify a handful of extremely metal-poor star candidates (EMP; [Fe/H] < −3) that are marginally bright enough for spectroscopic follow-up. The MDF of Eri II appears well described by a leaky box chemical evolution model. We also compute an updated orbital history for Eri II using Gaia eDR3 proper motions, and find that it is likely on first infall into the Milky Way. Our findings suggest that Eri II underwent an evolutionary history similar to that of an isolated galaxy. Compared to MDFs for select cosmological simulations of similar mass galaxies, we find that Eri II has a lower fraction of stars with [Fe/H] < −3, though such comparisons should currently be treated with caution due to a paucity of simulations, selection effects, and known limitations of CaHK for EMPs. This study demonstrates the power of deep HST CaHK imaging for measuring the MDFs of UFDs.« less
  5. The Galactic center region, including the nuclear disk, has until recently been largely avoided in chemical census studies because of extreme extinction and stellar crowding. Large, near-IR spectroscopic surveys, such as the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), allow the measurement of metallicities in the inner region of our Galaxy. Making use of the latest APOGEE data release (DR16), we are able for the first time to study cool Asymptotic Giant branch (AGB) stars and supergiants in this region. The stellar parameters of five known AGB stars and one supergiant star (VR 5-7) show that their location is wellmore »above the tip of the red giant branch. We studied metallicities of 157 M giants situated within 150 pc of the Galactic center from observations obtained by the APOGEE survey with reliable stellar parameters from the APOGEE pipeline making use of the cool star grid down to 3200 K. Distances, interstellar extinction values, and radial velocities were checked to confirm that these stars are indeed situated in the Galactic center region. We detect a clear bimodal structure in the metallicity distribution function, with a dominant metal-rich peak of [Fe/H] ∼ +0.3 dex and a metal-poor peak around {Fe/H] = −0.5 dex, which is 0.2 dex poorer than Baade’s Window. The α -elements Mg, Si, Ca, and O show a similar trend to the Galactic bulge. The metal-poor component is enhanced in the α -elements, suggesting that this population could be associated with the classical bulge and a fast formation scenario. We find a clear signature of a rotating nuclear stellar disk and a significant fraction of high-velocity stars with v gal  >  300 km s −1 ; the metal-rich stars show a much higher rotation velocity (∼200 km s −1 ) with respect to the metal-poor stars (∼140 km s −1 ). The chemical abundances as well as the metallicity distribution function suggest that the nuclear stellar disk and the nuclear star cluster show distinct chemical signatures and might be formed differently.« less