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    Post-common envelope binaries (PCEBs) containing a white dwarf (WD) and a main-sequence (MS) star can constrain the physics of common envelope evolution and calibrate binary evolution models. Most PCEBs studied to date have short orbital periods (Porb ≲ 1 d), implying relatively inefficient harnessing of binaries’ orbital energy for envelope expulsion. Here, we present follow-up observations of five binaries from 3rd data release of Gaia mission containing solar-type MS stars and probable ultramassive WDs ($M\gtrsim 1.2\ {\rm M}_{\odot}$) with significantly wider orbits than previously known PCEBs, Porb = 18–49 d. The WD masses are much higher than expected for systems formed via stable mass transfer at these periods, and their near-circular orbits suggest partial tidal circularization when the WD progenitors were giants. These properties strongly suggest that the binaries are PCEBs. Forming PCEBs at such wide separations requires highly efficient envelope ejection, and we find that the observed periods can only be explained if a significant fraction of the energy released when the envelope recombines goes into ejecting it. Our one-dimensional stellar models including recombination energy confirm prior predictions that a wide range of PCEB orbital periods, extending up to months or years, can potentially result from Roche lobe overflow of a luminous asymptotic giant branch (AGB) star. This evolutionary scenario may also explain the formation of several wide WD + MS binaries discovered via self-lensing, as well as a significant fraction of post-AGB binaries and barium stars.

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    We model the stellar abundances and ages of two disrupted dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way stellar halo: Gaia-Sausage Enceladus (GSE) and Wukong/LMS-1. Using a statistically robust likelihood function, we fit one-zone models of galactic chemical evolution with exponential infall histories to both systems, deriving e-folding time-scales of τin = 1.01 ± 0.13 Gyr for GSE and $\tau _\text{in} = 3.08^{+3.19}_{-1.16}$ Gyr for Wukong/LMS-1. GSE formed stars for $\tau _\text{tot} = 5.40^{+0.32}_{-0.31}$ Gyr, sustaining star formation for ∼1.5–2 Gyr after its first infall into the Milky Way ∼10 Gyr ago. Our fit suggests that star formation lasted for $\tau _\text{tot} = 3.36^{+0.55}_{-0.47}$ Gyr in Wukong/LMS-1, though our sample does not contain any age measurements. The differences in evolutionary parameters between the two are qualitatively consistent with trends with stellar mass M⋆ predicted by simulations and semi-analytic models of galaxy formation. Our inferred values of the outflow mass-loading factor reasonably match $\eta \propto M_\star ^{-1/3}$ as predicted by galactic wind models. Our fitting method is based only on Poisson sampling from an evolutionary track and requires no binning of the data. We demonstrate its accuracy by testing against mock data, showing that it accurately recovers the input model across a broad range of sample sizes (20 ≤ N ≤ 2000) and measurement uncertainties (0.01 ≤ σ[α/Fe], σ[Fe/H] ≤ 0.5; $0.02 \le \sigma _{\log _{10}(\text{age})} \le 1$). Due to the generic nature of our derivation, this likelihood function should be applicable to one-zone models of any parametrization and easily extensible to other astrophysical models which predict tracks in some observed space.

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  3. Abstract

    The Magellanic Stream (MS)—an enormous ribbon of gas spanning 140° of the southern sky trailing the Magellanic Clouds—has been exquisitely mapped in the five decades since its discovery. However, despite concerted efforts, no stellar counterpart to the MS has been conclusively identified. This stellar stream would reveal the distance and 6D kinematics of the MS, constraining its formation and the past orbital history of the Clouds. We have been conducting a spectroscopic survey of the most distant and luminous red giant stars in the Galactic outskirts. From this data set, we have discovered a prominent population of 13 stars matching the extreme angular momentum of the Clouds, spanning up to 100° along the MS at distances of 60–120 kpc. Furthermore, these kinematically selected stars lie along an [α/Fe]-deficient track in chemical space from −2.5 < [Fe/H] <− 0.5, consistent with their formation in the Clouds themselves. We identify these stars as high-confidence members of the Magellanic Stellar Stream. Half of these stars are metal-rich and closely follow the gaseous MS, whereas the other half are more scattered and metal-poor. We argue that the metal-rich stream is the recently formed tidal counterpart to the MS, and we speculate that the metal-poor population was thrown out of the SMC outskirts during an earlier interaction between the Clouds. The Magellanic Stellar Stream provides a strong set of constraints—distances, 6D kinematics, and birth locations—that will guide future simulations toward unveiling the detailed history of the Clouds.

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  4. Abstract

    The majority of the Milky Way’s stellar halo consists of debris from our galaxy’s last major merger, the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE). In the past few years, stars from the GSE have been kinematically and chemically studied in the inner 30 kpc of our galaxy. However, simulations predict that accreted debris could lie at greater distances, forming substructures in the outer halo. Here we derive metallicities and distances using Gaia DR3 XP spectra for an all-sky sample of luminous red giant stars, and map the outer halo with kinematics and metallicities out to 100 kpc. We obtain follow-up spectra of stars in two strong overdensities—including the previously identified outer Virgo Overdensity—and find them to be relatively metal rich and on predominantly retrograde orbits, matching predictions from simulations of the GSE merger. We argue that these are apocentric shells of GSE debris, forming 60–90 kpc counterparts to the 15–20 kpc shells that are known to dominate the inner stellar halo. Extending our search across the sky with literature radial velocities, we find evidence for a coherent stream of retrograde stars encircling the Milky Way from 50 to 100 kpc, in the same plane as the Sagittarius Stream but moving in the opposite direction. These are the first discoveries of distant and structured imprints from the GSE merger, cementing the picture of an inclined and retrograde collision that built up our galaxy’s stellar halo.

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  5. Abstract

    Stars that formed with an initial mass of over 50Mare very rare today, but they are thought to be more common in the early Universe. The fates of those early, metal-poor, massive stars are highly uncertain. Most are expected to directly collapse to black holes, while some may explode as a result of rotationally powered engines or the pair-creation instability. We present the chemical abundances of J0931+0038, a nearby low-mass star identified in early follow-up of the SDSS-V Milky Way Mapper, which preserves the signature of unusual nucleosynthesis from a massive star in the early Universe. J0931+0038 has a relatively high metallicity ([Fe/H] = −1.76 ± 0.13) but an extreme odd–even abundance pattern, with some of the lowest known abundance ratios of [N/Fe], [Na/Fe], [K/Fe], [Sc/Fe], and [Ba/Fe]. The implication is that a majority of its metals originated in a single extremely metal-poor nucleosynthetic source. An extensive search through nucleosynthesis predictions finds a clear preference for progenitors with initial mass >50M, making J0931+0038 one of the first observational constraints on nucleosynthesis in this mass range. However, the full abundance pattern is not matched by any models in the literature. J0931+0038 thus presents a challenge for the next generation of nucleosynthesis models and motivates the study of high-mass progenitor stars impacted by convection, rotation, jets, and/or binary companions. Though rare, more examples of unusual early nucleosynthesis in metal-poor stars should be found in upcoming large spectroscopic surveys.

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  6. Abstract

    We report the discovery of Specter, a disrupted ultrafaint dwarf galaxy revealed by the H3 Spectroscopic Survey. We detected this structure via a pair of comoving metal-poor stars at a distance of 12.5 kpc, and further characterized it with Gaia astrometry and follow-up spectroscopy. Specter is a 25° × 1° stream of stars that is entirely invisible until strict kinematic cuts are applied to remove the Galactic foreground. The spectroscopic members suggest a stellar ageτ≳ 12 Gyr and a mean metallicity[Fe/H]=1.840.18+0.16, with a significant intrinsic metallicity dispersionσ[Fe/H]=0.370.13+0.21. We therefore argue that Specter is the disrupted remnant of an ancient dwarf galaxy. With an integrated luminosityMV≈ −2.6, Specter is by far the least-luminous dwarf galaxy stream known. We estimate that dozens of similar streams are lurking below the detection threshold of current search techniques, and conclude that spectroscopic surveys offer a novel means to identify extremely low surface brightness structures.

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  7. Abstract Several lines of evidence suggest that the Milky Way underwent a major merger at z ∼ 2 with the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE) galaxy. Here we use H3 Survey data to argue that GSE entered the Galaxy on a retrograde orbit based on a population of highly retrograde stars with chemistry similar to the largely radial GSE debris. We present the first tailored N -body simulations of the merger. From a grid of ≈500 simulations we find that a GSE with M ⋆ = 5 × 10 8 M ⊙ , M DM = 2 × 10 11 M ⊙ best matches the H3 data. This simulation shows that the retrograde stars are stripped from GSE’s outer disk early in the merger. Despite being selected purely on angular momenta and radial distributions, this simulation reproduces and explains the following phenomena: (i) the triaxial shape of the inner halo, whose major axis is at ≈35° to the plane and connects GSE’s apocenters; (ii) the Hercules-Aquila Cloud and the Virgo Overdensity, which arise due to apocenter pileup; and (iii) the 2 Gyr lag between the quenching of GSE and the truncation of the age distribution of the in situ halo, which tracks the lag between the first and final GSE pericenters. We make the following predictions: (i) the inner halo has a “double-break” density profile with breaks at both ≈15–18 kpc and 30 kpc, coincident with the GSE apocenters; and (ii) the outer halo has retrograde streams awaiting discovery at >30 kpc that contain ≈10% of GSE’s stars. The retrograde (radial) GSE debris originates from its outer (inner) disk—exploiting this trend, we reconstruct the stellar metallicity gradient of GSE (−0.04 ± 0.01 dex r 50 − 1 ). These simulations imply that GSE delivered ≈20% of the Milky Way’s present-day dark matter and ≈50% of its stellar halo. 
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  8. Abstract

    X-ray observations of low-mass stars in open clusters are critical to understanding the dependence of magnetic activity on stellar properties and their evolution. Praesepe and the Hyades, two of the nearest, most-studied open clusters, are among the best available laboratories for examining the dependence of magnetic activity on rotation for stars with masses ≲1M. We present an updated study of the rotation–X-ray activity relation in the two clusters. We updated membership catalogs that combine pre-Gaia catalogs with new catalogs based on Gaia Data Release 2. The resulting catalogs are the most inclusive ones for both clusters: 1739 Praesepe and 1315 Hyades stars. We collected X-ray detections for cluster members, for which we analyzed, re-analyzed, or collated data from ROSAT, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory, and XMM-Newton. We have detections for 326 Praesepe and 462 Hyades members, of which 273 and 164, respectively, have rotation periods—an increase of 6× relative to what was previously available. We find that at ≈700 Myr, only M dwarfs remain saturated in X-rays, with only tentative evidence for supersaturation. We also find a tight relation between the Rossby number and fractional X-ray luminosityLX/Lbolin unsaturated single members, suggesting a power-law index between −3.2 and −3.9. Lastly, we find no difference in the coronal parameters between binary and single members. These results provide essential insight into the relative efficiency of magnetic heating of the stars’ atmospheres, thereby informing the development of robust age-rotation-activity relations.

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