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Reading the CARDs: The Imprint of Accretion History in the Chemical Abundances of the Milky Way's Stellar Halo
Abstract In the era of large-scale spectroscopic surveys in the Local Group, we can explore using chemical abundances of halo stars to study the star formation and chemical enrichment histories of the dwarf galaxy progenitors of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 stellar halos. In this paper, we investigate using the chemical abundance ratio distributions (CARDs) of seven stellar halos from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations. We attempt to infer galaxies’ assembly histories by modeling the CARDs of the stellar halos of the Latte galaxies as a linear combination of template CARDs from disrupted dwarfs, with different stellar masses M ⋆ and quenching times t 100 . We present a method for constructing these templates using present-day dwarf galaxies. For four of the seven Latte halos studied in this work, we recover the mass spectrum of accreted dwarfs to a precision of <10%. For the fraction of mass accreted as a function of t 100 , we find the residuals of 20%–30% for five of the seven simulations. We discuss the failure modes of this method, which arise from the diversity of star formation and chemical enrichment histories that dwarf galaxies can take. These failure cases can be robustly more »
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Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10350029
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
934
Issue:
2
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
172
ISSN:
0004-637X
4. ABSTRACT Recent progress in constraining the massive accretions (>1:10) experienced by the Milky Way (MW) and the Andromeda galaxy (M31) offers an opportunity to understand the dwarf galaxy population of the Local Group. Using zoom-in dark matter-only simulations of MW-mass haloes and concentrating on subhaloes that are thought to be capable of hosting dwarf galaxies, we demonstrate that the infall of a massive progenitor is accompanied with the accretion and destruction of a large number of subhaloes. Massive accreted progenitors do not increase the total number of infalling subhaloes on to a MW-mass host, but instead focus surrounding subhaloes on to the host causing a clustering in the infall time of subhaloes. This leads to a temporary elevation in the number of subhaloes as well as changes in their cumulative radial profile within the virial radius of the host. Surviving subhaloes associated with a massive progenitor have a large diversity in their orbits. We find that the star formation quenching times of Local Group dwarf spheroidal galaxies ($10^{5} \mathrm{\, M_{\odot }} \lesssim \mathrm{\mathit{ M}}_{*} \lesssim 10^{7} \mathrm{\, M_{\odot }}$) are clustered around the times of the most massive accretions suffered by the MW and M31. Our results imply that (a)more »
5. ABSTRACT Surveys of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 enable detailed studies of stellar populations across ages and metallicities, with the goal of reconstructing formation histories across cosmic time. These surveys motivate key questions for galactic archaeology in a cosmological context: When did the main progenitor of an MW/M31-mass galaxy form, and what were the galactic building blocks that formed it? We investigate the formation times and progenitor galaxies of MW/M31-mass galaxies using the Feedback In Realistic Environments-2 cosmological simulations, including six isolated MW/M31-mass galaxies and six galaxies in Local Group (LG)-like pairs at z = 0. We examine main progenitor ‘formation’ based on two metrics: (1) transition from primarily ex-situ to in-situ stellar mass growth and (2) mass dominance compared to other progenitors. We find that the main progenitor of an MW/M31-mass galaxy emerged typically at z ∼ 3–4 ($11.6\!\!-\!\!12.2\, \rm {Gyr}$ ago), while stars in the bulge region (inner 2 kpc) at z = 0 formed primarily in a single main progenitor at z ≲ 5 (${\lesssim} \!12.6\, \rm {Gyr}$ ago). Compared with isolated hosts, the main progenitors of LG-like paired hosts emerged significantly earlier (Δz ∼ 2, $\Delta t\!\sim \!1.6\, \rm {Gyr}$), with ∼4× higher stellar mass at all zmore »