skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Cunningham, Emily C"

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract

    The elemental abundances of planet host stars can shed light on the conditions of planet forming environments. We test if individual abundances of 130 known/candidate planet hosts in APOGEE are statistically different from those of a reference doppelgänger sample. The reference set comprises objects selected with the sameTeff,logg, [Fe/H], and [Mg/H] as each Kepler Object of Interest (KOI). We predict twelve individual abundances (X = C, N, O, Na, Al, Si, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Ni) for the KOIs and their doppelgängers using a local linear model of these four parameters, training on ASPCAP abundance measurements for a sample of field stars with high-fidelity (signal-to-noise ratio > 200) APOGEE observations. We compare element prediction residuals (model–measurement) for the two samples and find them to be indistinguishable, given a high-quality sample selection. We report median intrinsic dispersions of ∼0.038 dex and ∼0.041 dex, for the KOI and doppelgänger samples, respectively, for these elements. We conclude that the individual abundances at fixedTeff,logg, [Fe/H], and [Mg/H] are unremarkable for known planet hosts. Our results establish an upper limit on the abundance precision required to uncover any chemical signatures of planet formation in planet host stars.

  2. Abstract

    The total mass of the Local Group (LG) is a fundamental quantity that enables interpreting the orbits of its constituent galaxies and placing the LG in a cosmological context. One of the few methods that allows inferring the total mass directly is the “Timing Argument,” which models the relative orbit of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 in equilibrium. The MW itself is not in equilibrium, a byproduct of its merger history and including the recent pericentric passage of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and recent work has found that the MW disk is moving with a lower bound “travel velocity” of ∼32 km s−1with respect to the outer stellar halo. Previous Timing Argument measurements have attempted to account for this nonequilibrium state, but have been restricted to theoretical predictions for the impact of the LMC specifically. In this paper, we quantify the impact of a travel velocity on recovered LG mass estimates using several different compilations of recent kinematic measurements of M31. We find that incorporating the measured value of the travel velocity lowers the inferred LG mass by 10%–12% compared to a static MW halo. Measurements of the travel velocity with more distant tracers could yield evenmore »larger values, which would further decrease the inferred LG mass. Therefore, the newly measured travel velocity directly implies a lower LG mass than from a model with a static MW halo and must be considered in future dynamical studies of the Local Volume.

    « less
  3. Abstract

    In the Gaia era it is increasingly apparent that traditional static, parameterized models are insufficient to describe the mass distribution of our complex, dynamically evolving Milky Way (MW). In this work, we compare different time-evolving and time-independent representations of the gravitational potentials of simulated MW-mass galaxies from the FIRE-2 suite of cosmological-baryonic simulations. Using these potentials, we calculate actions for star particles in tidal streams around three galaxies with varying merger histories at each snapshot from 7 Gyr ago to the present day. We determine the action-space coherence preserved by each model using the Kullback–Leibler divergence to gauge the degree of clustering in actions and the relative stability of the clusters over time. We find that all models produce a clustered action space for simulations with no significant mergers. However, a massive (mass ratio prior to infall more similar than 1:8) interacting galaxy not present in the model will result in mischaracterized orbits for stars most affected by the interaction. The locations of the action space clusters (i.e., the orbits of the stream stars) are only preserved by the time-evolving model, while the time-independent models can lose significant amounts of information as soon as 0.5–1 Gyr ago, even ifmore »the system does not undergo a significant merger. Our results imply that reverse-integration of stream orbits in the MW using a fixed potential is likely to give incorrect results if integrated longer than 0.5 Gyr into the past.

    « less
  4. 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 robustlymore »identified by the high model residuals. Although the CARDs modeling method does not successfully infer the assembly histories in these cases, the CARDs of these disrupted dwarfs contain signatures of their unusual formation histories. Our results are promising for using CARDs to learn more about the histories of the progenitors of the MW and M31 stellar halos.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2023
  5. Abstract Extended, old, and round stellar halos appear to be ubiquitous around high-mass dwarf galaxies (10 8.5 < M ⋆ / M ⊙ < 10 9.6 ) in the observed universe. However, it is unlikely that these dwarfs have undergone a sufficient number of minor mergers to form stellar halos that are composed of predominantly accreted stars. Here, we demonstrate that FIRE-2 (Feedback in Realistic Environments) cosmological zoom-in simulations are capable of producing dwarf galaxies with realistic structures, including both a thick disk and round stellar halo. Crucially, these stellar halos are formed in situ, largely via the outward migration of disk stars. However, there also exists a large population of “nondisky” dwarfs in FIRE-2 that lack a well-defined disk/halo and do not resemble the observed dwarf population. These nondisky dwarfs tend to be either more gas-poor or to have burstier recent star formation histories than the disky dwarfs, suggesting that star formation feedback may be preventing disk formation. Both classes of dwarfs underscore the power of a galaxy’s intrinsic shape—which is a direct quantification of the distribution of the galaxy’s stellar content—to interrogate the feedback implementation in simulated galaxies.
  6. Abstract Gaia DR2 has provided an unprecedented wealth of information about the positions and motions of stars in our Galaxy, and has highlighted the degree of disequilibria in the disc. As we collect data over a wider area of the disc it becomes increasingly appealing to start analysing stellar actions and angles, which specifically label orbit space, instead of their current phase space location. Conceptually, while $\bar{x}$ and $\bar{v}$ tell us about the potential and local interactions, grouping in action puts together stars that have similar frequencies and hence similar responses to dynamical effects occurring over several orbits. Grouping in actions and angles refines this further to isolate stars which are travelling together through space and hence have shared histories. Mixing these coordinate systems can confuse the interpretation. For example, it has been suggested that by moving stars to their guiding radius, the Milky Way spiral structure is visible as ridge-like overdensities in the Gaia data (Khoperskov et al. 2020). However, in this work, we show that these features are in fact the known kinematic moving groups, both in the Lz − φ and the vR − vφ planes. Using simulations we show how this distinction will become even more importantmore »as we move to a global view of the Milky Way. As an example, we show that the radial velocity wave seen in the Galactic disc in Gaia and APOGEE should become stronger in the action-angle frame, and that it can be reproduced by transient spiral structure.« less
  7. Abstract

    We present measurements of [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] for 128 individual red giant branch stars (RGB) in the stellar halo of M31, including its Giant Stellar Stream (GSS), obtained using spectral synthesis of low- and medium-resolution Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy (and 6000, respectively). We observed four fields in M31's stellar halo (at projected radii of 9, 18, 23, and 31 kpc), as well as two fields in the GSS (at 33 kpc). In combination with existing literature measurements, we have increased the sample size of [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] measurements from 101 to a total of 229 individual M31 RGB stars. From this sample, we investigate the chemical abundance properties of M31's inner halo, findingand. Between 8 and 34 kpc, the inner halo has a steep [Fe/H] gradient (−0.025 ± 0.002 dex kpc−1) and negligible [α/Fe] gradient, where substructure in the inner halo is systematically more metal-rich than the smooth component of the halo at a given projected distance. Although the chemical abundances of the inner stellar halo are largely inconsistent with that of present-day dwarf spheroidal (dSph) satellite galaxies of M31, we identified 22 RGB stars kinematically associated with the smooth component of the stellar halomore »that have chemical abundance patterns similar to M31 dSphs. We discuss formation scenarios for M31's halo, concluding that these dSph-like stars may have been accreted from galaxies of similar stellar mass and star formation history, or of higher stellar mass and similar star formation efficiency.

    « less