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    We constrain the orbital period (Porb) distribution of low-mass detached main-sequence eclipsing binaries (EBs) with light-curves from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which provides a well-understood selection function and sensitivity to faint stars. At short periods (Porb ≲ 2 d), binaries are predicted to evolve significantly due to magnetic braking (MB), which shrinks orbits and ultimately brings detached binaries into contact. The period distribution is thus a sensitive probe of MB. We find that the intrinsic period distribution of low-mass (0.1 ≲ M1/M⊙ < 0.9) binaries is basically flat (${\rm d}N/{\rm d}P_{\rm orb} \propto P_{\rm orb}^0$) from Porb = 10 d down to the contact limit. This is strongly inconsistent with predictions of classical MB models based on the Skumanich relation, which are widely used in binary evolution calculations and predict ${\rm d}N/{\rm d}P_{\rm orb} \propto P_{\rm orb}^{7/3}$ at short periods. The observed distributions are best reproduced by models in which the magnetic field saturates at short periods with a MB torque that scales roughly as $\dot{J}\propto P_{\rm orb}^{-1}$, as opposed to $\dot{J} \propto P_{\rm orb}^{-3}$ in the standard Skumanich law. We also find no significant difference between the period distributions of binaries containing fully and partially convective stars. Our results confirmmore »that a saturated MB law, which was previously found to describe the spin-down of rapidly rotating isolated M dwarfs, also operates in tidally locked binaries. We advocate using saturated MB models in binary evolution calculations. Our work supports previous suggestions that MB in cataclysmic variables (CVs) is much weaker than assumed in the standard evolutionary model, unless mass transfer leads to significant additional angular momentum loss in CVs.

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  2. 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.

  3. Abstract One of the most common methods for inferring galaxy attenuation curves is via spectral energy distribution (SED) modeling, where the dust attenuation properties are modeled simultaneously with other galaxy physical properties. In this paper, we assess the ability of SED modeling to infer these dust attenuation curves from broadband photometry, and suggest a new flexible model that greatly improves the accuracy of attenuation curve derivations. To do this, we fit mock SEDs generated from the simba cosmological simulation with the prospector SED fitting code. We consider the impact of the commonly assumed uniform screen model and introduce a new nonuniform screen model parameterized by the fraction of unobscured stellar light. This nonuniform screen model allows for a nonzero fraction of stellar light to remain unattenuated, resulting in a more flexible attenuation curve shape by decoupling the shape of the UV attenuation curve from the optical attenuation curve. The ability to constrain the dust attenuation curve is significantly improved with the use of a nonuniform screen model, with the median offset in UV attenuation decreasing from −0.30 dex with a uniform screen model to −0.17 dex with the nonuniform screen model. With this increase in dust attenuation modeling accuracy, wemore »also improve the star formation rates (SFRs) inferred with the nonuniform screen model, decreasing the SFR offset on average by 0.12 dex. We discuss the efficacy of this new model, focusing on caveats with modeling star-dust geometries and the constraining power of available SED observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023

    A major source of uncertainty in the age determination of old (∼10 Gyr) integrated stellar populations is the presence of hot horizontal branch (HB) stars. Here, we describe a simple approach to tackle this problem, and show the performance of this technique that simultaneously models the age, abundances, and HB properties of integrated stellar populations. For this, we compare the results found during the fits of the integrated spectra of a sample of stellar population benchmarks, against the values obtained from the analysis of their resolved colour–magnitude diagrams (CMDs). We find that the ages derived from our spectral fits for most (26/32) of our targets are within 0.1 dex to their CMDs values. Similarly, for the majority of the targets in our sample we are able to recover successfully the flux contribution from hot HB stars (within ∼0.15 dex for 18/24 targets) and their mean temperature (14/24 targets within $\sim 30 {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$). Finally, we present a diagnostic that can be used to detect spurious solutions in age, that will help identify the few cases when this method fails. These results open a new window for the detailed study of globular clusters beyond the Local Group.

  5. Abstract We present the discovery of a giant cloud of ionized gas in the field of the starbursting galaxy M82. Emission from the cloud is seen in H α and [N ii ] λ 6583 in data obtained though a small pathfinder instrument used to test the key ideas that will be implemented in the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper, an upcoming ultranarrow-bandpass imaging version of the Dragonfly Telephoto Array. The discovered cloud has a shell-like morphology with a linear extent of 0.°8 and is positioned 0.°6 northwest of M82. At the heliocentric distance of the M81 group, the cloud’s longest angular extent corresponds to 55 kpc and its projected distance from the nucleus of M82 is 40 kpc. The cloud has an average H α surface brightness of 2 × 10 −18 erg cm − 2 s − 1 arcsec − 2 . The [N ii ] λ 6583/H α line ratio varies from [N ii ]/H α ∼ 0.2 to [N ii ]/H α ∼ 1.0 across the cloud, with higher values found in its eastern end. Follow-up spectra obtained with Keck LRIS confirm the existence of the cloud and yield line ratios of [N ii ] λ 6583/Hmore »α = 0.340 ± 0.003 and [S ii ] λλ 6716, 6731/H α = 0.64 ± 0.03 in the cloud. This giant cloud of material could be lifted from M82 by tidal interactions or by its powerful starburst. Alternatively, it may be gas infalling from the cosmic web, potentially precipitated by the superwinds of M82. Deeper data are needed to test these ideas further. The upcoming Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper will have 120 lenses, 40× more than in the pathfinder instrument used to obtain the data presented here.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  6. Abstract The astrophysical origins of r -process elements remain elusive. Neutron star mergers (NSMs) and special classes of core-collapse supernovae (rCCSNe) are leading candidates. Due to these channels’ distinct characteristic timescales (rCCSNe: prompt, NSMs: delayed), measuring r -process enrichment in galaxies of similar mass but differing star formation durations might prove informative. Two recently discovered disrupted dwarfs in the Milky Way’s stellar halo, Kraken and Gaia-Sausage Enceladus (GSE), afford precisely this opportunity: Both have M ⋆ ≈ 10 8 M ⊙ but differing star formation durations of ≈2 Gyr and ≈3.6 Gyr. Here we present R ≈ 50,000 Magellan/MIKE spectroscopy for 31 stars from these systems, detecting the r -process element Eu in all stars. Stars from both systems have similar [Mg/H] ≈ −1, but Kraken has a median [Eu/Mg] ≈ −0.1 while GSE has an elevated [Eu/Mg] ≈ 0.2. With simple models, we argue NSM enrichment must be delayed by 500–1000 Myr to produce this difference. rCCSNe must also contribute, especially at early epochs, otherwise stars formed during the delay period would be Eu free. In this picture, rCCSNe account for ≈50% of the Eu in Kraken, ≈25% in GSE, and ≈15% in dwarfs with extended star formation durationsmore »like Sagittarius. The inferred delay time for NSM enrichment is 10×–100× longer than merger delay times from stellar population synthesis—this is not necessarily surprising because the enrichment delay includes time taken for NSM ejecta to be incorporated into subsequent generations of stars. For example, this may be due to natal kicks that result in r -enriched material deposited far from star-forming gas, which then takes ≈10 8 –10 9 yr to cool in these galaxies.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2023
  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 themore »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.« less
  8. Abstract

    It has been shown that ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) have higher specific frequencies of globular clusters, on average, than other dwarf galaxies with similar luminosities. The UDG NGC 5846-UDG1 is among the most extreme examples of globular cluster–rich galaxies found so far. Here we present new Hubble Space Telescope observations and analysis of this galaxy and its globular cluster system. We find that NGC 5846-UDG1 hosts 54 ± 9 globular clusters, three to four times more than any previously known galaxy with a similar luminosity and higher than reported in previous studies. With a galaxy luminosity ofLV,gal≈ 6 × 107L(M≈ 1.2 × 108M) and a total globular cluster luminosity ofLV,GCs≈ 7.6 × 106L, we find that the clusters currently comprise ∼13% of the total light. Taking into account the effects of mass loss from clusters during their formation and throughout their lifetime, we infer that most of the stars in the galaxy likely formed in globular clusters, and very little to no “normal” low-density star formation occurred. This result implies that the most extreme conditions during early galaxy formation promoted star formation in massive and dense clumps, in contrast to the dispersed star formation observed in galaxies today.