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  1. Abstract

    Stellar kinematics and metallicity are key to exploring formation scenarios for galactic disks and halos. In this work, we characterized the relationship between kinematics and photometric metallicity along the line of sight to M31's disk. We combined optical Hubble Space Telescope/Advanced Camera for Surveys photometry, from the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury survey, with Keck/DEIMOS spectra, from the Spectroscopic and Photometric Landscape of Andromeda’s Stellar Halo survey. The resulting sample of 3512 individual red giant branch stars spans 4–19 projected kpc, making it a useful probe of both the disk and inner halo. We separated these stars into disk and halo populations, by modeling the line-of-sight velocity distributions as a function of position across the disk region, where ∼73% stars have a high likelihood of belonging to the disk and ∼14% to the halo. Although stellar halos are typically thought to be metal-poor, the kinematically identified halo contains a significant population of stars (∼29%) with disk-like metallicity ([Fe/H]phot∼ −0.10). This metal-rich halo population lags the gaseous disk to a similar extent as the rest of the halo, indicating that it does not correspond to a canonical thick disk. Its properties are inconsistent with those of tidal debris originating from themore »Giant Stellar Stream merger event. Moreover, the halo is chemically distinct from the phase-mixed component previously identified along the minor axis (i.e., away from the disk), implying contributions from different formation channels. These metal-rich halo stars provide direct chemodynamical evidence in favor of the previously suggested “kicked-up” disk population in M31's inner stellar halo.

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  2. 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
  3. Abstract

    We obtained Keck/DEIMOS spectra of 556 individual red giant branch stars in four spectroscopic fields spanning 13−31 projected kpc along the northeast (NE) shelf of M31. We present the first detection of a complete wedge pattern in the space of projected M31-centric radial distance versus line-of-sight velocity for this feature, which includes the returning stream component of the shelf. This wedge pattern agrees with expectations of a tidal shell formed in a radial merger and provides strong evidence in favor of predictions of Giant Stellar Stream (GSS) formation models in which the NE shelf originates from the second orbital wrap of the tidal debris. The observed concentric wedge patterns of the NE, west (W), and southeast (SE) shelves corroborate this interpretation independently of the models. We do not detect a kinematical signature in the NE shelf region corresponding to an intact progenitor core, favoring GSS formation models in which the progenitor is completely disrupted. The shelf’s photometric metallicity ([Fe/H]phot) distribution implies that it is dominated by tidal material, as opposed to the phase-mixed stellar halo or the disk. The metallicity distribution ([Fe/H]phot= −0.42 ± 0.01) also matches the GSS, and consequently the W and SE shelves, further supporting amore »direct physical association between the tidal features.

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  4. Abstract

    We analyze existing measurements of [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] for individual red giant branch (RGB) stars in the Giant Stellar Stream (GSS) of M31 to determine whether spatial abundance gradients are present. These measurements were obtained from low- (R∼ 3000) and moderate- (R∼ 6000) resolution Keck/DEIMOS spectroscopy using spectral synthesis techniques as part of the Elemental Abundances in M31 survey. From a sample of 62 RGB stars spanning the GSS at 17, 22, and 33 projected kpc, we measure a [Fe/H] gradient of −0.018 ± 0.003 dex kpc−1and negligible [α/Fe] gradient with M31-centric radius. We investigate GSS abundance patterns in the outer halo using additional [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] measurements for six RGB stars located along the stream at 45 and 58 projected kpc. These abundances provide tentative evidence that the trends in [Fe/H] and [α/Fe] beyond 40 kpc in the GSS are consistent with those within 33 kpc. We also compare the GSS abundances to 65 RGB stars located along the possibly related Southeast (SE) shelf substructure at 12 and 18 projected kpc. The abundances of the GSS and SE shelf are consistent, supporting a common origin hypothesis, although this interpretation may be complicated by the presence of [Fe/H] gradientsmore »in the GSS. We discuss the abundance patterns in the context of photometric studies from the literature and explore implications for the properties of the GSS progenitor, suggesting that the high 〈[α/Fe]〉 of the GSS (+0.40 ± 0.05 dex) favors a major merger scenario for its formation.

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    Observations indicate that a continuous supply of gas is needed to maintain observed star formation rates in large, discy galaxies. To fuel star formation, gas must reach the inner regions of such galaxies. Despite its crucial importance for galaxy evolution, how and where gas joins galaxies is poorly constrained observationally and rarely explored in fully cosmological simulations. To investigate gas accretion in the vicinity of galaxies at low redshift, we analyse the FIRE-2 cosmological zoom-in simulations for 4 Milky Way mass galaxies (Mhalo ∼ 1012M⊙), focusing on simulations with cosmic ray physics. We find that at z ∼ 0, gas approaches the disc with angular momentum similar to the gaseous disc edge and low radial velocities, piling-up near the edge and settling into full rotational support. Accreting gas moves predominately parallel to the disc and joins largely in the outskirts. Immediately prior to joining the disc, trajectories briefly become more vertical on average. Within the disc, gas motion is complex, being dominated by spiral arm induced oscillations and feedback. However, time and azimuthal averages show slow net radial infall with transport speeds of 1–3 km s−1 and net mass fluxes through the disc of ∼M⊙ yr−1, comparable to the galaxies’ starmore »formation rates and decreasing towards galactic centre as gas is sunk into star formation. These rates are slightly higher in simulations without cosmic rays (1–7 km s−1, ∼4–5 M⊙ yr−1). We find overall consistency of our results with observational constraints and discuss prospects of future observations of gas flows in and around galaxies.

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  6. 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.

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