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  1. Abstract In the Λ-Cold Dark Matter model of the universe, galaxies form in part through accreting satellite systems. Previous works have built an understanding of the signatures of these processes contained within galactic stellar halos. This work revisits that picture using seven Milky Way–like galaxies in the Latte suite of FIRE-2 cosmological simulations. The resolution of these simulations allows a comparison of contributions from satellites above M * ≳ 10 × 7 M ⊙ , enabling the analysis of observable properties for disrupted satellites in a fully self-consistent and cosmological context. Our results show that the time of accretion and the stellar mass of an accreted satellite are fundamental parameters that in partnership dictate the resulting spatial distribution, orbital energy, and [ α /Fe]-[Fe/H] compositions of the stellar debris of such mergers at present day. These parameters also govern the resulting dynamical state of an accreted galaxy at z = 0, leading to the expectation that the inner regions of the stellar halo ( R GC ≲ 30 kpc) should contain fully phase-mixed debris from both lower- and higher-mass satellites. In addition, we find that a significant fraction of the lower-mass satellites accreted at early times deposit debris in themore »outer halo ( R GC > 50 kpc) that are not fully phased-mixed, indicating that they could be identified in kinematic surveys. Our results suggest that, as future surveys become increasingly able to map the outer halo of our Galaxy, they may reveal the remnants of long-dead dwarf galaxies whose counterparts are too faint to be seen in situ in higher-redshift surveys.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 1, 2024
  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

    The spatial distribution of mono-abundance populations (MAPs, selected in [Fe/H] and [Mg/Fe]) reflect the chemical and structural evolution in a galaxy and impose strong constraints on galaxy formation models. In this paper, we use APOGEE data to derive the intrinsic density distribution of MAPs in the Milky Way, after carefully considering the survey selection function. We find that a single exponential profile is not a sufficient description of the Milky Way’s disc. Both the individual MAPs and the integrated disc exhibit a broken radial density distribution; densities are relatively constant with radius in the inner Galaxy and rapidly decrease beyond the break radius. We fit the intrinsic density distribution as a function of radius and vertical height with a 2D density model that considers both a broken radial profile and radial variation of scale height (i.e. flaring). There is a large variety of structural parameters between different MAPs, indicative of strong structure evolution of the Milky Way. One surprising result is that high-α MAPs show the strongest flaring. The young, solar-abundance MAPs present the shortest scale height and least flaring, suggesting recent and ongoing star formation confined to the disc plane. Finally we derive the intrinsic density distribution andmore »corresponding structural parameters of the chemically defined thin and thick discs. The chemical thick and thin discs have local surface mass densities of 5.62 ± 0.08 and 15.69 ± 0.32 M⊙pc−2, respectively, suggesting a massive thick disc with a local surface mass density ratio between thick to thin disc of 36 per cent.

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    Recent results from chemical tagging studies using Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment data suggest a strong link between the chemical abundance patterns of stars found within globular clusters (GC), and chemically peculiar populations in the Galactic halo field. In this paper, we analyse the chemical compositions of stars within the cluster body and tidal streams of Palomar 5, a GC that is being tidally disrupted by interaction with the Galactic gravitational potential. We report the identification of nitrogen-rich (N-rich) stars both within and beyond the tidal radius of Palomar 5, with the latter being clearly aligned with the cluster tidal streams; this acts as confirmation that N-rich stars are lost to the Galactic halo from GCs, and provides support to the hypothesis that field N-rich stars identified by various groups have a GC origin.

  5. ABSTRACT Recent evidence based on APOGEE data for stars within a few kpc of the Galactic Centre suggests that dissolved globular clusters (GCs) contribute significantly to the stellar mass budget of the inner halo. In this paper, we enquire into the origins of tracers of GC dissolution, N-rich stars, that are located in the inner 4 kpc of the Milky Way. From an analysis of the chemical compositions of these stars, we establish that about 30 per cent of the N-rich stars previously identified in the inner Galaxy may have an accreted origin. This result is confirmed by an analysis of the kinematic properties of our sample. The specific frequency of N-rich stars is quite large in the accreted population, exceeding that of its in situ counterparts by near an order of magnitude, in disagreement with predictions from numerical simulations. We hope that our numbers provide a useful test to models of GC formation and destruction.
  6. ABSTRACT We report evidence from APOGEE for the presence of a new metal-poor stellar structure located within ∼4 kpc of the Galactic Centre. Characterized by a chemical composition resembling those of low-mass satellites of the Milky Way, this new inner Galaxy structure (IGS) seems to be chemically and dynamically detached from more metal-rich populations in the inner Galaxy. We conjecture that this structure is associated with an accretion event that likely occurred in the early life of the Milky Way. Comparing the mean elemental abundances of this structure with predictions from cosmological numerical simulations, we estimate that the progenitor system had a stellar mass of ∼5 × 108 M⊙, or approximately twice the mass of the recently discovered Gaia-Enceladus/Sausage system. We find that the accreted:in situ ratio within our metal-poor ([Fe/H] < –0.8) bulge sample is somewhere between 1:3 and 1:2, confirming predictions of cosmological numerical simulations by various groups.
  7. ABSTRACT The contribution of dissolved globular clusters (GCs) to the stellar content of the Galactic halo is a key constraint on models for GC formation and destruction, and the mass assembly history of the Milky Way. Earlier results from APOGEE pointed to a large contribution of destroyed GCs to the stellar content of the inner halo, by as much as 25 ${{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, which is an order of magnitude larger than previous estimates for more distant regions of the halo. We set out to measure the ratio between nitrogen-rich (N-rich) and normal halo field stars, as a function of distance, by performing density modelling of halo field populations in APOGEE DR16. Our results show that at 1.5 kpc from the Galactic Centre, N-rich stars contribute a much higher 16.8$^{+10.0}_{-7.0}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ fraction to the total stellar halo mass budget than the 2.7$^{+1.0}_{-0.8}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ ratio contributed at 10 kpc. Under the assumption that N-rich stars are former GC members that now reside in the stellar halo field, and assuming the ratio between first and second population GC stars being 1:2, we estimate a total contribution from disrupted GC stars of the order of 27.5$^{+15.4}_{-11.5}\, {{\ \rmmore »per\ cent}}$ at r = 1.5 kpc and 4.2$^{+1.5}_{-1.3}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ at r = 10 kpc. Furthermore, since our methodology requires fitting a density model to the stellar halo, we integrate such density within a spherical shell from 1.5 to 15 kpc in radius, and find a total stellar mass arising from dissolved and/or evaporated GCs of MGC,total = 9.6$^{+4.0}_{-2.6}\, \times$ 107 M⊙.« less
  8. Abstract The SDSS-IV Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey has obtained high-resolution spectra for thousands of red giant stars distributed among the massive satellite galaxies of the Milky Way (MW): the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC/SMC), the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (Sgr), Fornax (Fnx), and the now fully disrupted Gaia Sausage/Enceladus (GSE) system. We present and analyze the APOGEE chemical abundance patterns of each galaxy to draw robust conclusions about their star formation histories, by quantifying the relative abundance trends of multiple elements (C, N, O, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Fe, Ni, and Ce), as well as by fitting chemical evolution models to the [ α /Fe]–[Fe/H] abundance plane for each galaxy. Results show that the chemical signatures of the starburst in the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) observed by Nidever et al. in the α -element abundances extend to C+N, Al, and Ni, with the major burst in the SMC occurring some 3–4 Gyr before the burst in the LMC. We find that Sgr and Fnx also exhibit chemical abundance patterns suggestive of secondary star formation epochs, but these events were weaker and earlier (∼5–7 Gyr ago) than those observed in the MCs. There is no chemical evidence ofmore »a second starburst in GSE, but this galaxy shows the strongest initial star formation as compared to the other four galaxies. All dwarf galaxies had greater relative contributions of AGB stars to their enrichment than the MW. Comparing and contrasting these chemical patterns highlight the importance of galaxy environment on its chemical evolution.« less
  9. ABSTRACT Studies of the kinematics and chemical compositions of Galactic globular clusters (GCs) enable the reconstruction of the history of star formation, chemical evolution, and mass assembly of the Galaxy. Using the latest data release (DR16) of the SDSS/APOGEE survey, we identify 3090 stars associated with 46 GCs. Using a previously defined kinematic association, we break the sample down into eight separate groups and examine how the kinematics-based classification maps into chemical composition space, considering only α (mostly Si and Mg) elements and Fe. Our results show that (i) the loci of both in situ and accreted subgroups in chemical space match those of their field counterparts; (ii) GCs from different individual accreted subgroups occupy the same locus in chemical space. This could either mean that they share a similar origin or that they are associated with distinct satellites which underwent similar chemical enrichment histories; (iii) the chemical compositions of the GCs associated with the low orbital energy subgroup defined by Massari and collaborators is broadly consistent with an in situ origin. However, at the low-metallicity end, the distinction between accreted and in situ populations is blurred; (iv) regarding the status of GCs whose origin is ambiguous, we conclude the following: the positionmore »in Si–Fe plane suggests an in situ origin for Liller 1 and a likely accreted origin for NGC 5904 and NGC 6388. The case of NGC 288 is unclear, as its orbital properties suggest an accretion origin, its chemical composition suggests it may have formed in situ.« less