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Blanco DECam Bulge Survey (BDBS) IV: Metallicity distributions and bulge structure from 2.6 million red clump stars
ABSTRACT We present photometric metallicity measurements for a sample of 2.6 million bulge red clump stars extracted from the Blanco DECam Bulge Survey (BDBS). Similar to previous studies, we find that the bulge exhibits a strong vertical metallicity gradient, and that at least two peaks in the metallicity distribution functions appear at b < −5°. We can discern a metal-poor ([Fe/H] ∼ −0.3) and metal-rich ([Fe/H] ∼ +0.2) abundance distribution that each show clear systematic trends with latitude, and may be best understood by changes in the bulge’s star formation/enrichment processes. Both groups exhibit asymmetric tails, and as a result we argue that the proximity of a star to either peak in [Fe/H] space is not necessarily an affirmation of group membership. The metal-poor peak shifts to lower [Fe/H] values at larger distances from the plane while the metal-rich tail truncates. Close to the plane, the metal-rich tail appears broader along the minor axis than in off-axis fields. We also posit that the bulge has two metal-poor populations – one that belongs to the metal-poor tail of the low latitude and predominantly metal-rich group, and another belonging to the metal-poor group that dominates in the outer bulge. We detect the more »
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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10352293
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume:
515
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
1469 to 1491
ISSN:
0035-8711
3. ABSTRACT Numerous studies of integrated starlight, stellar counts, and kinematics have confirmed that the Milky Way is a barred galaxy. However, far fewer studies have investigated the bar’s stellar population properties, which carry valuable independent information regarding the bar’s formation history. Here, we conduct a detailed analysis of chemical abundance distributions ([Fe/H] and [Mg/Fe]) in the on-bar and off-bar regions to study the azimuthal variation of star formation history (SFH) in the inner Galaxy. We find that the on-bar and off-bar stars at Galactocentric radii 3 kpc < rGC < 5 kpc have remarkably consistent [Fe/H] and [Mg/Fe] distribution functions and [Mg/Fe]–[Fe/H] relation, suggesting a common SFH shared by the long bar and the disc. In contrast, the bar and disc at smaller radii (2 kpc < rGC < 3 kpc) show noticeable differences, with relatively more very metal-rich ($\rm [Fe/H] \sim 0.4$) stars but fewer solar abundance stars in the bar. Given the three-phase star formation history proposed for the inner Galaxy in Lian et al., these differences could be explained by the off-bar disc having experienced either a faster early quenching process or recent metal-poor gas accretion. Vertical variations of the abundance distributions at small rGC suggest a wider vertical distribution of low-αmore »