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    We present a novel method for constraining the length of the Galactic bar using 6D phase-space information to directly integrate orbits. We define a pseudo-length for the Galactic bar, named RFreq, based on the maximal extent of trapped bar orbits. We find the RFreq measured from orbits is consistent with the RFreq of the assumed potential only when the length of the bar and pattern speed of said potential is similar to the model from which the initial phase-space coordinates of the orbits are derived. Therefore, one can measure the model’s or the Milky Way’s bar length from 6D phase-space coordinates by determining which assumed potential leads to a self-consistent measured RFreq. When we apply this method to ≈210 000 stars in APOGEE DR17 and Gaia eDR3 data, we find a consistent result only for potential models with a dynamical bar length of ≈3.5 kpc. We find the Milky Way’s trapped bar orbits extend out to only ≈3.5 kpc, but there is also an overdensity of stars at the end of the bar out to 4.8 kpc which could be related to an attached spiral arm. We also find that the measured orbital structure of the bar is strongly dependent on the propertiesmore »of the assumed potential.

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    Gaia Data Release 2 revealed that the Milky Way contains significant indications of departures from equilibrium in the form of asymmetric features in the phase space density of stars in the Solar neighbourhood. One such feature is the z–vz phase spiral, interpreted as the response of the disc to the influence of a perturbation perpendicular to the disc plane, which could be external (e.g. a satellite) or internal (e.g. the bar or spiral arms). In this work, we use Gaia Data Release 3 to dissect the phase spiral by dividing the local data set into groups with similar azimuthal actions, Jϕ, and conjugate angles, θϕ, which selects stars on similar orbits and at similar orbital phases, thus having experienced similar perturbations in the past. These divisions allow us to explore areas of the Galactic disc larger than the surveyed region. The separation improves the clarity of the z–vz phase spiral and exposes changes to its morphology across the different action-angle groups. In particular, we discover a transition to two armed ‘breathing spirals’ in the inner Milky Way. We conclude that the local data contain signatures of not one, but multiple perturbations with the prospect to use their distinct propertiesmore »to infer the properties of the interactions that caused them.

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  3. Abstract

    Signatures of vertical disequilibrium have been observed across the Milky Way’s (MW’s) disk. These signatures manifest locally as unmixed phase spirals inzvzspace (“snails-in-phase”), and globally as nonzero meanzandvz, wrapping around the disk into physical spirals in thexyplane (“snails-in-space”). We explore the connection between these local and global spirals through the example of a satellite perturbing a test-particle MW-like disk. We anticipate our results to broadly apply to any vertical perturbation. Using azvzasymmetry metric, we demonstrate that in test-particle simulations: (a) multiple local phase-spiral morphologies appear when stars are binned by azimuthal actionJϕ, excited by a single event (in our case, a satellite disk crossing); (b) these distinct phase spirals are traced back to distinct disk locations; and (c) they are excited at distinct times. Thus, local phase spirals offer a global view of the MW’s perturbation history from multiple perspectives. Using a toy model for a Sagittarius (Sgr)–like satellite crossing the disk, we show that the full interaction takes place on timescales comparable to orbital periods of disk stars withinR≲ 10 kpc. Hence such perturbations have widespread influence, which peaks in distinct regions of the disk at different times. This leads us to examine the ongoing MW–Sgr interaction. Whilemore »Sgr has not yet crossed the disk (currently,zSgr≈ −6 kpc,vz,Sgr≈ 210 km s−1), we demonstrate that the peak of the impact has already passed. Sgr’s pull over the past 150 Myr creates a globalvzsignature with amplitude ∝MSgr, which might be detectable in future spectroscopic surveys.

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  4. ABSTRACT In this work, we present two new ∼109 particle self-consistent simulations of the merger of a Sagittarius-like dwarf galaxy with a Milky Way (MW)-like disc galaxy. One model is a violent merger creating a thick disc, and a Gaia–Enceladus/Sausage-like remnant. The other is a highly stable disc which we use to illustrate how the improved phase space resolution allows us to better examine the formation and evolution of structures that have been observed in small, local volumes in the MW, such as the z−vz phase spiral and clustering in the vR−vϕ plane when compared to previous works. The local z−vz phase spirals are clearly linked to the global asymmetry across the disc: we find both 2-armed and 1-armed phase spirals, which are related to breathing and bending behaviours, respectively. Hercules-like moving groups are common, clustered in vR−vϕ in local data samples in the simulation. These groups migrate outwards from the inner galaxy, matching observed metallicity trends even in the absence of a galactic bar. We currently release the best-fitting ‘present-day’ merger snapshots along with the unperturbed galaxies for comparison.
  5. 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

    Gaia DR2 has provided an unprecedented wealth of information about the kinematics of stars in the Solar neighbourhood, and has highlighted the degree of features in the Galactic disc. We confront the data with a range of bar and spiral models in both action-angle space, and the RG–vϕ plane. We find that the phase mixing induced by transient spiral structure creates ridges and arches in the local kinematics which are consistent with the Gaia data. We are able to produce a qualitatively good match to the data when combined with a bar with a variety of pattern speeds, and show that it is non-trivial to decouple the effects of the bar and the spiral structure.


    Studies of the ages, abundances, and motions of individual stars in the Milky Way provide one of the best ways to study the evolution of disc galaxies over cosmic time. The formation of the Milky Way’s barred inner region in particular is a crucial piece of the puzzle of disc galaxy evolution. Using data from APOGEE and Gaia, we present maps of the kinematics, elemental abundances, and age of the Milky Way bulge and disc that show the barred structure of the inner Milky Way in unprecedented detail. The kinematic maps allow a direct, purely kinematic determination of the bar’s pattern speed of $41\pm 3\, \mathrm{km\, s}^{-1}\, \mathrm{kpc}^{-1}$ and of its shape and radial profile. We find the bar’s age, metallicity, and abundance ratios to be the same as those of the oldest stars in the disc that are formed in its turbulent beginnings, while stars in the bulge outside of the bar are younger and more metal-rich. This implies that the bar likely formed ${\approx}8\, \mathrm{Gyr}$ ago, when the decrease in turbulence in the gas disc allowed a thin disc to form that quickly became bar-unstable. The bar’s formation therefore stands as a crucial epoch in the evolutionmore »of the Milky Way, a picture that is in line with the evolutionary path that emerges from observations of the gas kinematics in external disc galaxies over the last ${\approx}10\, \mathrm{Gyr}$.

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