skip to main content

Title: On the Hunt for the Origins of the Orphan–Chenab Stream: Detailed Element Abundances with APOGEE and Gaia

Stellar streams in the Galactic halo are useful probes of the assembly of galaxies like the Milky Way. Many tidal stellar streams that have been found in recent years are accompanied by a known progenitor globular cluster or dwarf galaxy. However, the Orphan–Chenab (OC) stream is one case where a relatively narrow stream of stars has been found without a known progenitor. In an effort to find the parent of the OC stream, we use astrometry from the early third data release of ESA’s Gaia mission (Gaia EDR3) and radial velocity information from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)-IV Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey to find up to 13 stars that are likely members of the OC stream. We use the APOGEE survey to study the chemical nature (for up to 10 stars) of the OC stream in theα(O, Mg, Ca, Si, Ti, and S), odd-Z(Al, K, and V), Fe-peak (Fe, Ni, Mn, Co, and Cr), and neutron-capture (Ce) elemental groups. We find that the stars that make up the OC stream are not consistent with a monometallic population and have a median metallicity of −1.92 dex with a dispersion of 0.28 dex. Our results also indicate that the α elements are depleted compared to the known Milky Way populations and that its [Mg/Al] abundance ratio is not consistent with second-generation stars from globular clusters. The detailed chemical pattern of these stars, namely the [α/Fe]–[Fe/H] plane and the metallicity distribution, indicates that the OC stream progenitor is very likely to be a dwarf spheroidal galaxy with a mass of ∼106M.

more » « less
Award ID(s):
2219090 2108736 1907417
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Article No. 123
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this

    Dynamically cold stellar streams are the relics left over from globular cluster dissolution. These relics offer a unique insight into a now fully disrupted population of ancient clusters in our Galaxy. Using a combination of Gaia eDR3 proper motions, optical and near-UV colours, we select a sample of likely Red Giant Branch stars from the GD-1 stream for medium-low resolution spectroscopic follow-up. Based on radial velocity and metallicity, we are able to find 14 new members of GD-1, 5 of which are associated with the spur and blob/cocoon off-stream features. We measured C-abundances to probe for abundance variations known to exist in globular clusters. These variations are expected to manifest in a subtle way in globular clusters with such low masses ($\sim 10^4\,{\rm ~\textrm {M}_\odot }$) and metallicities ([Fe/H] ∼ −2.1 dex). We find that the C-abundances of the stars in our sample display a small but significant (3σ level) spread. Furthermore, we find ∼3σ variation in Mg-abundances among the stars in our sample that have been observed by APOGEE. These abundance patterns match the ones found in Galactic globular clusters of similar metallicity. Our results suggest that GD-1 represents another fully disrupted low-mass globular cluster where light-element abundance spreads have been found.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT We use observations from the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey to explore the relationship between stellar parameters and multiplicity. We combine high-resolution repeat spectroscopy for 41 363 dwarf and subgiant stars with abundance measurements from the APOGEE pipeline and distances and stellar parameters derived using Gaia DR2 parallaxes from Sanders & Das to identify and characterize stellar multiples with periods below 30 yr, corresponding to ΔRVmax ≳ 3 km s−1, where ΔRVmax is the maximum APOGEE-detected shift in the radial velocities. Chemical composition is responsible for most of the variation in the close binary fraction in our sample, with stellar parameters like mass and age playing a secondary role. In addition to the previously identified strong anticorrelation between the close binary fraction and [Fe/H], we find that high abundances of α elements also suppress multiplicity at most values of [Fe/H] sampled by APOGEE. The anticorrelation between α abundances and multiplicity is substantially steeper than that observed for Fe, suggesting C, O, and Si in the form of dust and ices dominate the opacity of primordial protostellar discs and their propensity for fragmentation via gravitational stability. Near [Fe/H] = 0 dex, the bias-corrected close binary fraction (a < 10 au) decreases from ≈100 per cent at [α/H] = −0.2 dex to ≈15 per cent near [α/H] = 0.08 dex, with a suggestive turn-up to ≈20 per cent near [α/H] = 0.2. We conclude that the relationship between stellar multiplicity and chemical composition for sun-like dwarf stars in the field of the Milky Way is complex, and that this complexity should be accounted for in future studies of interacting binaries. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract The SDSS-IV Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey has obtained high-resolution spectra for thousands of red giant stars distributed among the massive satellite galaxies of the Milky Way (MW): the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC/SMC), the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (Sgr), Fornax (Fnx), and the now fully disrupted Gaia Sausage/Enceladus (GSE) system. We present and analyze the APOGEE chemical abundance patterns of each galaxy to draw robust conclusions about their star formation histories, by quantifying the relative abundance trends of multiple elements (C, N, O, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Fe, Ni, and Ce), as well as by fitting chemical evolution models to the [ α /Fe]–[Fe/H] abundance plane for each galaxy. Results show that the chemical signatures of the starburst in the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) observed by Nidever et al. in the α -element abundances extend to C+N, Al, and Ni, with the major burst in the SMC occurring some 3–4 Gyr before the burst in the LMC. We find that Sgr and Fnx also exhibit chemical abundance patterns suggestive of secondary star formation epochs, but these events were weaker and earlier (∼5–7 Gyr ago) than those observed in the MCs. There is no chemical evidence of a second starburst in GSE, but this galaxy shows the strongest initial star formation as compared to the other four galaxies. All dwarf galaxies had greater relative contributions of AGB stars to their enrichment than the MW. Comparing and contrasting these chemical patterns highlight the importance of galaxy environment on its chemical evolution. 
    more » « less

    Understanding the assembly of our Galaxy requires us to also characterize the systems that helped build it. In this work, we accomplish this by exploring the chemistry of accreted halo stars from Gaia-Enceladus/Gaia-Sausage (GES) selected in the infrared from the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) Data Release 16. We use high resolution optical spectra for 62 GES stars to measure abundances in 20 elements spanning the α, Fe-peak, light, odd-Z, and notably, the neutron-capture groups of elements to understand their trends in the context of and in contrast to the Milky Way and other stellar populations. Using these derived abundances we find that the optical and the infrared abundances agree to within 0.15 dex except for O, Co, Na, Cu, and Ce. These stars have enhanced neutron-capture abundance trends compared to the Milky Way, and their [Eu/Mg] and neutron-capture abundance ratios (e.g. [Y/Eu], [Ba/Eu], [Zr/Ba], [La/Ba], and [Nd/Ba]) point to r-process enhancement and a delay in s-process enrichment. Their [α/Fe] trend is lower than the Milky Way trend for [Fe/H] > −1.5 dex, similar to previous studies of GES stars and consistent with the picture that these stars formed in a system with a lower rate of star formation. This is further supported by their depleted abundances in Ni, Na, and Cu abundances, again, similar to previous studies of low-α stars with accreted origins.

    more » « less
  5. 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 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. 
    more » « less