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  1. Abstract Phosphorus (P) is a critical element for life on Earth, yet the cosmic production sites of P are relatively uncertain. To understand how P has evolved in the solar neighborhood, we measured abundances for 163 FGK stars over a range of –1.09 < [Fe/H] < 0.47 using observations from the Habitable-zone Planet Finder instrument on the Hobby–Eberly Telescope. Atmospheric parameters were calculated by fitting a combination of astrometry, photometry, and Fe I line equivalent widths. Phosphorus abundances were measured by matching synthetic spectra to a P I feature at 10529.52 Å. Our [P/Fe] ratios show that chemical evolution models generally underpredict P over the observed metallicity range. Additionally, we find that the [P/Fe] differs by ∼0.1 dex between thin disk and thick disk stars that were identified with kinematics. The P abundances were compared with α -elements, iron-peak, odd-Z, and s-process elements, and we found that the evolution of P in the disk most strongly resembles that of the α -elements. We also find that molar P/C and N/C ratios for our sample match the scatter seen from other abundance studies. Finally, we measure a [P/Fe] = 0.09 ± 0.1 ratio in one low- α halo star and probablemore »Gaia–Sausage–Enceladus member, an abundance ratio ∼0.3–0.5 dex lower than the other Milky Way disk and halo stars at similar metallicities. Overall, we find that P is likely most significantly produced by massive stars in core-collapse supernovae, based on the largest P abundance survey to date.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 20, 2023
  2. ABSTRACT Understanding the assembly of our Galaxy requires us to also characterize the systems that helped build it. In this work, we accomplish this by exploring the chemistry of accreted halo stars from Gaia-Enceladus/Gaia-Sausage (GES) selected in the infrared from the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) Data Release 16. We use high resolution optical spectra for 62 GES stars to measure abundances in 20 elements spanning the α, Fe-peak, light, odd-Z, and notably, the neutron-capture groups of elements to understand their trends in the context of and in contrast to the Milky Way and other stellar populations. Using these derived abundances we find that the optical and the infrared abundances agree to within 0.15 dex except for O, Co, Na, Cu, and Ce. These stars have enhanced neutron-capture abundance trends compared to the Milky Way, and their [Eu/Mg] and neutron-capture abundance ratios (e.g. [Y/Eu], [Ba/Eu], [Zr/Ba], [La/Ba], and [Nd/Ba]) point to r-process enhancement and a delay in s-process enrichment. Their [α/Fe] trend is lower than the Milky Way trend for [Fe/H] > −1.5 dex, similar to previous studies of GES stars and consistent with the picture that these stars formed in a system with a lower rate ofmore »star formation. This is further supported by their depleted abundances in Ni, Na, and Cu abundances, again, similar to previous studies of low-α stars with accreted origins.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2023
  3. Abstract Little is known about the origin of the fastest stars in the Galaxy. Our understanding of the chemical evolution history of the Milky Way and surrounding dwarf galaxies allows us to use the chemical composition of a star to investigate its origin and to say whether it was formed in situ or was accreted. However, the fastest stars, the hypervelocity stars, are young and massive and their chemical composition has not yet been analyzed. Though it is difficult to analyze the chemical composition of a massive young star, we are well versed in the analysis of late-type stars. We have used high-resolution ARCES/3.5 m Apache Point Observatory, MIKE/Magellan spectra to study the chemical details of 15 late-type hypervelocity star candidates. With Gaia EDR3 astrometry and spectroscopically determined radial velocities we found total velocities with a range of 274–520 km s −1 and mean value of 381 km s −1 . Therefore, our sample stars are not fast enough to be classified as hypervelocity stars, and are what is known as extreme-velocity stars. Our sample has a wide iron abundance range of −2.5 ≤ [Fe/H] ≤ −0.9. Their chemistry indicates that at least 50% of them are accreted extragalactic stars,more »with iron-peak elements consistent with prior enrichment by sub-Chandrasekhar mass Type Ia supernovae. Without indication of binary companions, their chemical abundances and orbital parameters indicate that they are the accelerated tidal debris of disrupted dwarf galaxies.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 6, 2023
  4. ABSTRACT The advent of Gaia has led to the discovery of nearly 300 elongated stellar associations (called ‘strings’) spanning hundreds of parsecs in length and mere tens of parsecs in width. These newfound populations present an excellent laboratory for studying the assembly process of the Milky Way thin disc. In this work, we use data from GALAH DR3 to investigate the chemical distributions and ages of 18 newfound stellar populations, 10 of which are strings and 8 of which are compact in morphology. We estimate the intrinsic abundance dispersions in [X/H] of each population and compare them with those of both their local fields and the open cluster (OC) M 67. We find that all but one of these groups are more chemically homogeneous than their local fields. Furthermore, half of the strings, namely Theias 139, 169, 216, 303, and 309, have intrinsic [X/H] dispersions that range between 0.01 and 0.07 dex in most elements, equivalent to those of many OCs. These results provide important new observational constraints on star formation and the chemical homogeneity of the local interstellar medium (ISM). We investigate each population’s Li and chemical clock abundances (e.g. [Sc/Ba], [Ca/Ba], [Ti/Ba], and [Mg/Y]) and find that the agesmore »suggested by chemistry generally support the isochronal ages in all but six structures. This work highlights the unique advantages that chemistry holds in the study of kinematically related stellar groups.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2023
  5. ABSTRACT J01020100−7122208 is a star whose origin and nature still challenges us. It was first believed to be a yellow supergiant ejected from the Small Magellanic Cloud, but it was more recently claimed to be a red giant accelerated by the Milky Way’s central black hole. In order to unveil its nature, we analysed photometric, astrometric, and high-resolution spectroscopic observations to estimate the orbit, age, and 16 elemental abundances. Our results show that this star has a retrograde and highly-eccentric orbit, $e=0.914_{-0.020}^{+0.016}$. Correspondingly, it likely crossed the Galactic disc at 550 pc from the Galactic Centre. We obtained a spectroscopic mass and age of $1.09\pm 0.10\, {\rm M}_\odot$ and 4.51 ± 1.44 Gyr, respectively. Its chemical composition is similar to the abundance of other retrograde halo stars. We found that the star is enriched in europium, having [Eu/Fe] = 0.93 ± 0.24, and is more metal-poor than reported in the literature, with [Fe/H]  = −1.30 ± 0.10. This information was used to conclude that J01020100−7122208 is likely not a star ejected from the central black of the Milky Way or from the Small Magellanic Cloud. Instead, we propose that it is simply a halo star that was likely accreted by the Milky Way in the distant past, but itsmore »mass and age suggest it is probably an evolved blue straggler.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 8, 2022
  6. 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
  7. Comoving pairs, even at the separations of O(106) AU, are a predicted reservoir of conatal stars. We present detailed chemical abundances of 62 stars in 31 comoving pairs with separations of 102 − 107 AU and 3D velocity differences < 2 km s−1. This sample includes both bound comoving pairs/wide binaries and unbound comoving pairs. Observations were taken using the MIKE spectrograph on the Magellan/Clay Telescope at high resolution (R ∼ 45, 000) with a typical signal-to-noise ratio of 150 per pixel. With these spectra, we measure surface abundances for 24 elements, including Li, C, Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Nd, Eu. Taking iron as the representative element, our sample of wide binaries is chemically homogeneous at the level of 0.05 dex, which agrees with prior studies on wide binaries. Importantly, even systems at separations 2 × 105 − 107 AU are homogeneous to 0.09 dex, as opposed to the random pairs which have a dispersion of 0.23 dex. Assuming a mixture model of the wide binaries and random pairs, we find that 73 ± 22% of the comoving pairs at separations 2 × 105more »− 107 AU are conatal. Our results imply that a much larger parameter space of phase space may be used to find conatal stars, to study M-dwarfs, star cluster evolution, exoplanets, chemical tagging, and beyond.« less
  8. ABSTRACT Recently, a new cylindrical-shaped stream of stars up to 700 pc long was discovered hiding in the Galactic disc using kinematic data enabled by the Gaia mission. This stream of stars, dubbed Pisces–Eridanus (Psc–Eri), was initially thought to be as old as 1 Gyr, yet its stars shared a rotation period distribution consistent with a population that was 120 Myr old. Here, we explore the detailed chemical nature of this stellar stream. We carried out high-resolution spectroscopic follow-up of 42 Psc–Eri stars using McDonald Observatory and combined these data with information for 40 members observed with the low-resolution LAMOST spectroscopic survey. Together, these data enabled us to measure the abundance distribution of light/odd-Z (Li, Na, Al, Sc, V), α (Mg, Si, Ca, Ti), Fe-peak (Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn), and neutron capture (Sr, Y, Zr, Ba, La, Nd, Eu) elements along the Psc–Eri stream. We find that the stream is (1) near-solar metallicity with [Fe/H] = –0.03 dex and (2) has a metallicity spread of 0.07 dex (or 0.04 dex when outliers are excluded). We also find that (3) the abundance of Li indicates that Psc–Eri is ∼120 Myr old, consistent with its gyrochronology age. Additionally, Psc–Eri has (4) [X/Fe] abundance spreadsmore »that are just larger than the typical uncertainty in most elements, (5) it is a cylindrical-like system whose outer edges rotate about the centre, and (6) no significant abundance gradients along its major axis except a potentially weak gradient in [Si/Fe]. These results show that Psc–Eri is a uniquely close young chemically interesting laboratory for testing our understanding of star and planet formation.« less
  9. 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