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  1. Abstract To understand the formation and evolution of the Milky Way disk, we must connect its current properties to its past. We explore hydrodynamical cosmological simulations to investigate how the chemical abundances of stars might be linked to their origins. Using hierarchical clustering of abundance measurements in two Milky Way–like simulations with distributed and steady star formation histories, we find that groups of chemically similar stars comprise different groups in birth place ( R birth ) and time (age). Simulating observational abundance errors (0.05 dex), we find that to trace distinct groups of ( R birth , age) requires a large vector of abundances. Using 15 element abundances (Fe, O, Mg, S, Si, C, P, Mn, Ne, Al, N, V, Ba, Cr, Co), up to ≈10 groups can be defined with ≈25% overlap in ( R birth , age). We build a simple model to show that in the context of these simulations, it is possible to infer a star’s age and R birth from abundances with precisions of ±0.06 Gyr and ±1.17 kpc, respectively. We find that abundance clustering is ineffective for a third simulation, where low- α stars form distributed in the disk and early high- α starsmore »form more rapidly in clumps that sink toward the Galactic center as their constituent stars evolve to enrich the interstellar medium. However, this formation path leads to large age dispersions across the [ α /Fe]–[Fe/H] plane, which is inconsistent with the Milky Way’s observed properties. We conclude that abundance clustering is a promising approach toward charting the history of our Galaxy.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT The characteristics of the stellar populations in the Galactic bulge inform and constrain the Milky Way’s formation and evolution. The metal-poor population is particularly important in light of cosmological simulations, which predict that some of the oldest stars in the Galaxy now reside in its centre. The metal-poor bulge appears to consist of multiple stellar populations that require dynamical analyses to disentangle. In this work, we undertake a detailed chemodynamical study of the metal-poor stars in the inner Galaxy. Using R ∼ 20 000 VLT/GIRAFFE spectra of 319 metal-poor (−2.55 dex ≤ [Fe/H] ≤ 0.83 dex, with $\overline{\rm {[Fe/H]}}$ = −0.84 dex) stars, we perform stellar parameter analysis and report 12 elemental abundances (C, Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Sc, Ti, Cr, Mn, Zn, Ba, and Ce) with precisions of ≈0.10 dex. Based on kinematic and spatial properties, we categorize the stars into four groups, associated with the following Galactic structures: the inner bulge, the outer bulge, the halo, and the disc. We find evidence that the inner and outer bulge population is more chemically complex (i.e. higher chemical dimensionality and less correlated abundances) than the halo population. This result suggests that the older bulge population was enriched by amore »larger diversity of nucleosynthetic events. We also find one inner bulge star with a [Ca/Mg] ratio consistent with theoretical pair-instability supernova yields and two stars that have chemistry consistent with globular cluster stars.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 8, 2022
  3. ABSTRACT The metal-poor stars in the bulge are important relics of the Milky Way’s formation history, as simulations predict that they are some of the oldest stars in the Galaxy. In order to determine if they are truly ancient stars, we must understand their origins. Currently, it is unclear if the metal-poor stars in the bulge ([Fe/H] < −1 dex) are merely halo interlopers, a unique accreted population, part of the boxy/peanut-shaped bulge, or a classical bulge population. In this work, we use spectra from the VLT/FLAMES spectrograph to obtain metallicity estimates using the Ca-II triplet of 473 bulge stars (187 of which have [Fe/H] < −1 dex), targeted using SkyMapper photometry. We also use Gaia DR2 data to infer the Galactic positions and velocities along with orbital properties for 523 stars. We employ a probabilistic orbit analysis and find that about half of our sample has a >50 per cent probability of being bound to the bulge, and half are halo interlopers. We also see that the occurrence rate of halo interlopers increases steadily with decreasing metallicity across the full range of our sample (−3 < [Fe/H] < 0.5). Our examination of the kinematics of the confined compared to the unbound stars indicatesmore »the metal-poor bulge comprises at least two populations; those confined to the boxy/peanut bulge and halo stars passing through the inner galaxy. We conclude that an orbital analysis approach, as we have employed, is important to understand the composite nature of the metal-poor stars in the inner region.« less