skip to main content

Title: The contribution of N-rich stars to the Galactic stellar halo using APOGEE red giants
ABSTRACT The contribution of dissolved globular clusters (GCs) to the stellar content of the Galactic halo is a key constraint on models for GC formation and destruction, and the mass assembly history of the Milky Way. Earlier results from APOGEE pointed to a large contribution of destroyed GCs to the stellar content of the inner halo, by as much as 25 ${{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, which is an order of magnitude larger than previous estimates for more distant regions of the halo. We set out to measure the ratio between nitrogen-rich (N-rich) and normal halo field stars, as a function of distance, by performing density modelling of halo field populations in APOGEE DR16. Our results show that at 1.5 kpc from the Galactic Centre, N-rich stars contribute a much higher 16.8$^{+10.0}_{-7.0}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ fraction to the total stellar halo mass budget than the 2.7$^{+1.0}_{-0.8}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ ratio contributed at 10 kpc. Under the assumption that N-rich stars are former GC members that now reside in the stellar halo field, and assuming the ratio between first and second population GC stars being 1:2, we estimate a total contribution from disrupted GC stars of the order of 27.5$^{+15.4}_{-11.5}\, {{\ \rm more » per\ cent}}$ at r = 1.5 kpc and 4.2$^{+1.5}_{-1.3}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ at r = 10 kpc. Furthermore, since our methodology requires fitting a density model to the stellar halo, we integrate such density within a spherical shell from 1.5 to 15 kpc in radius, and find a total stellar mass arising from dissolved and/or evaporated GCs of MGC,total = 9.6$^{+4.0}_{-2.6}\, \times$ 107 M⊙. « less
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT Recent evidence based on APOGEE data for stars within a few kpc of the Galactic Centre suggests that dissolved globular clusters (GCs) contribute significantly to the stellar mass budget of the inner halo. In this paper, we enquire into the origins of tracers of GC dissolution, N-rich stars, that are located in the inner 4 kpc of the Milky Way. From an analysis of the chemical compositions of these stars, we establish that about 30 per cent of the N-rich stars previously identified in the inner Galaxy may have an accreted origin. This result is confirmed by an analysis of the kinematic properties of our sample. The specific frequency of N-rich stars is quite large in the accreted population, exceeding that of its in situ counterparts by near an order of magnitude, in disagreement with predictions from numerical simulations. We hope that our numbers provide a useful test to models of GC formation and destruction.

    Stellar-mass black holes (BHs) can be retained in globular clusters (GCs) until the present. Simulations of GC evolution find that the relaxation driven mass-loss rate is elevated if BHs are present, especially near dissolution. We capture this behaviour in a parametrized mass-loss rate, bench marked by results from N-body simulations, and use it to evolve an initial GC mass function (GCMF), similar to that of young massive clusters in the Local Universe, to an age of 12 Gyr. Low-metallicity GCs ([Fe/H] ≲ −1.5) have the highest mass-loss rates, because of their relatively high BH masses, which combined with their more radial orbits and stronger tidal field in the past explains the high turnover mass of the GCMF ($\sim 10^5\, {\rm M}_\odot$ ) at large Galactic radii ($\gtrsim 10\, {\rm kpc}$ ). The turnover mass at smaller Galactic radii is similar because of the upper mass truncation of the initial GCMF and the lower mass-loss rate due to the higher metallicities. The density profile in the Galaxy of mass lost from massive GCs ($\gtrsim 10^{5}\, {\rm M}_\odot$ ) resembles that of nitrogen-rich stars in the halo, confirming that these stars originated from GCs. We conclude that two-body relaxation is the dominantmore »effect in shaping the GCMF from a universal initial GCMF, because including the effect of BHs reduces the need for additional disruption mechanisms.

    « less
  3. ABSTRACT We study stellar-halo formation using six Milky-Way-mass galaxies in FIRE-2 cosmological zoom simulations. We find that $5{-}40{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of the outer (50–300 kpc) stellar halo in each system consists of in-situ stars that were born in outflows from the main galaxy. Outflow stars originate from gas accelerated by superbubble winds, which can be compressed, cool, and form co-moving stars. The majority of these stars remain bound to the halo and fall back with orbital properties similar to the rest of the stellar halo at z = 0. In the outer halo, outflow stars are more spatially homogeneous, metal-rich, and alpha-element-enhanced than the accreted stellar halo. At the solar location, up to $\sim \!10 {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of our kinematically identified halo stars were born in outflows; the fraction rises to as high as $\sim \!40{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ for the most metal-rich local halo stars ([Fe/H] >−0.5). Such stars can be retrograde and create features similar to the recently discovered Milky Way ‘Splash’ in phase space. We conclude that the Milky Way stellar halo could contain local counterparts to stars that are observed to form in molecular outflows in distant galaxies. Searches for such a population may provide amore »new, near-field approach to constraining feedback and outflow physics. A stellar halo contribution from outflows is a phase-reversal of the classic halo formation scenario of Eggen, Lynden-Bell & Sandange, who suggested that halo stars formed in rapidly infalling gas clouds. Stellar outflows may be observable in direct imaging of external galaxies and could provide a source for metal-rich, extreme-velocity stars in the Milky Way.« less
  4. Abstract We present a study of the stellar populations of globular clusters (GCs) in the Virgo Cluster core with a homogeneous spectroscopic catalog of 692 GCs within a major-axis distance R maj = 840 kpc from M87. We investigate radial and azimuthal variations in the mean age, total metallicity, [Fe/H], and α -element abundance of blue (metal-poor) and red (metal-rich) GCs using their co-added spectra. We find that the blue GCs have a steep radial gradient in [Z/H] within R maj = 165 kpc, with roughly equal contributions from [Fe/H] and [ α /Fe], and flat gradients beyond. By contrast, the red GCs show a much shallower gradient in [Z/H], which is entirely driven by [Fe/H]. We use GC-tagged Illustris simulations to demonstrate an accretion scenario where more massive satellites (with more metal- and α -rich GCs) sink further into the central galaxy than less massive ones, and where the gradient flattening occurs because of the low GC occupation fraction of low-mass dwarfs disrupted at larger distances. The dense environment around M87 may also cause the steep [ α /Fe] gradient of the blue GCs, mirroring what is seen in the dwarf galaxy population. The progenitors of red GCs havemore »a narrower mass range than those of blue GCs, which makes their gradients shallower. We also explore spatial inhomogeneity in GC abundances, finding that the red GCs to the northwest of M87 are slightly more metal-rich. Future observations of GC stellar population gradients will be useful diagnostics of halo merger histories.« less
  5. ABSTRACT We report the result of searching for globular clusters (GCs) around 55 Milky Way (MW) satellite dwarf galaxies within the distance of 450 kpc from the Galactic Centre except for the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds and the Sagittarius dwarf. For each dwarf, we analyse the stellar distribution of sources in Gaia DR2, selected by magnitude, proper motion, and source morphology. Using the kernel density estimation of stellar number counts, we identify 11 possible GC candidates. Cross-matched with existing imaging data, all 11 objects are known either GCs or galaxies and only Fornax GC 1–6 among them are associated with the targeted dwarf galaxy. Using simulated GCs, we calculate the GC detection limit $M_{\rm V}^{\rm lim}$ that spans the range from $M_{\rm V}^{\rm lim}\sim -7$ for distant dwarfs to $M_{\rm V}^{\rm lim}\sim 0$ for nearby systems. Assuming a Gaussian GC luminosity function, we compute that the completeness of the GC search is above 90 per cent for most dwarf galaxies. We construct the 90 per cent credible intervals/upper limits on the GC specific frequency SN of the MW dwarf galaxies: 12 < SN < 47 for Fornax, SN < 20 for the dwarfs with −12 < MV < −10, SNmore »< 30 for the dwarfs with −10 < MV < −7, and SN < 90 for the dwarfs with MV > −7. Based on SN, we derive the probability of galaxies hosting GCs given their luminosity, finding that the probability of galaxies fainter than MV = −9 to host GCs is lower than 0.1.« less