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    Very metal-poor stars ($\rm [Fe/H] \lt -2$) in the Milky Way are fossil records of early chemical evolution and the assembly and structure of the Galaxy. However, they are rare and hard to find. Gaia DR3 has provided over 200 million low-resolution (R ≈ 50) XP spectra, which provides an opportunity to greatly increase the number of candidate metal-poor stars. In this work, we utilize the XGBoost classification algorithm to identify ∼200 000 very metal-poor star candidates. Compared to past work, we increase the candidate metal-poor sample by about an order of magnitude, with comparable or better purity than past studies. First, we develop three classifiers for bright stars (BP < 16). They are Classifier-T (for Turn-off stars), Classifier-GC (for Giant stars with high completeness), and Classifier-GP (for Giant stars with high purity) with expected purity of 52 per cent/45 per cent/76 per cent and completeness of 32 per cent/93 per cent/66 per cent, respectively. These three classifiers obtained a total of 11 000/111 000/44 000 bright metal-poor candidates. We apply model-T and model-GP on faint stars (BP > 16) and obtain 38 000/41 000 additional metal-poor candidates with purity 29 per cent/52 per cent, respectively. We make our metal-poor star catalogues publicly available, for further exploration of the metal-poor Milky Way.

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    We present the first detailed chemical-abundance analysis of stars from the dwarf-galaxy stellar stream Wukong/LMS-1 covering a wide metallicity range ($-3.5 \lt \rm [Fe/H] \lesssim -1.3$). We find abundance patterns that are effectively indistinguishable from the bulk of Indus and Jhelum, a pair of smaller stellar streams proposed to be dynamically associated with Wukong/LMS-1. We confirmed a carbon-enhanced metal-poor star ($\rm [C/Fe] \gt +0.7$ and $\rm [Fe/H] \sim -2.9$) in Wukong/LMS-1 with strong enhancements in Sr, Y, and Zr, which is peculiar given its solar-level [Ba/Fe]. Wukong/LMS-1 stars have high abundances of α elements up to $\rm [Fe/H] \gtrsim -2$, which is expected for relatively massive dwarfs. Towards the high-metallicity end, Wukong/LMS-1 becomes α-poor, revealing that it probably experienced fairly standard chemical evolution. We identified a pair of N- and Na-rich stars in Wukong/LMS-1, reminiscent of multiple stellar populations in globular clusters. This indicates that this dwarf galaxy contained at least one globular cluster that was completely disrupted in addition to two intact ones previously known to be associated with Wukong/LMS-1, which is possibly connected to similar evidence found in Indus. From these ≥3 globular clusters, we estimate the total mass of Wukong/LMS-1 to be ${\approx }10^{10} \, \mathrm{M}_\odot$, representing ∼1 per cent of the present-day Milky Way. Finally, the [Eu/Mg] ratio in Wukong/LMS-1 continuously increases with metallicity, making this the first example of a dwarf galaxy where the production of r-process elements is clearly dominated by delayed sources, presumably neutron-star mergers.

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  3. Abstract

    We present a population of 11 of the faintest (>25.5 AB mag) short gamma-ray burst (GRB) host galaxies. We model their sparse available observations using the stellar population inference codeProspector-βand develop a novel implementation to incorporate the galaxy mass–radius relation. Assuming these hosts are randomly drawn from the galaxy population and conditioning this draw on their observed flux and size in a few photometric bands, we determine that these hosts have dwarf galaxy stellar masses of7.0log(M*/M)9.1. This is striking as only 14% of short GRB hosts with previous inferred stellar masses hadM*≲ 109M. We further show these short GRBs have smaller physical and host-normalized offsets than the rest of the population, suggesting that the majority of their neutron star (NS) merger progenitors were retained within their hosts. The presumably shallow potentials of these hosts translate to small escape velocities of ∼5.5–80 km s−1, indicative of either low postsupernova systemic velocities or short inspiral times. While short GRBs with identified dwarf host galaxies now comprise ≈14% of the total Swift-detected population, a number are likely missing in the current population, as larger systemic velocities (observed from the Galactic NS population) would result in highly offset short GRBs and less secure host associations. However, the revelation of a population of short GRBs retained in low-mass host galaxies offers a natural explanation for the observedr-process enrichment via NS mergers in Local Group dwarf galaxies, and has implications for gravitational-wave follow-up strategies.

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  4. Abstract

    Whereas light-element abundance variations are a hallmark of globular clusters, there is little evidence for variations in neutron-capture elements. A significant exception is M15, which shows a star-to-star dispersion in neutron-capture abundances of at least one order of magnitude. The literature contains evidence both for and against a neutron-capture dispersion in M92. We conducted an analysis of archival Keck/HIRES spectra of 35 stars in M92, 29 of which are giants, which we use exclusively for our conclusions. M92 conforms to the abundance variations typical of massive clusters. Like other globular clusters, its neutron-capture abundances were generated by ther-process. We confirm a star-to-star dispersion inr-process abundances. Unlike M15, the dispersion is limited to “first-generation” (low-Na, high-Mg) stars, and the dispersion is smaller for Sr, Y, and Zr than for Ba and the lanthanides. This is the first detection of a relation between light-element and neutron-capture abundances in a globular cluster. We propose that a source of the mainr-process polluted the cluster shortly before or concurrently with the first generation of star formation. The heavierr-process abundances were inhomogeneously distributed while the first-generation stars were forming. The second-generation stars formed after several crossing times (∼0.8 Myr); hence, the second generation shows nor-process dispersion. This scenario imposes a minimum temporal separation of 0.8 Myr between the first and second generations.

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  5. Abstract

    Nyx is a nearby, prograde, and high-eccentricity stellar stream physically contained in the thick disk, but its origin is unknown. Nyx could be the remnant of a disrupted dwarf galaxy, in which case the associated dark matter substructure could affect terrestrial dark matter direct-detection experiments. Alternatively, Nyx could be a signature of the Milky Way’s disk formation and evolution. To determine the origin of Nyx, we obtained high-resolution spectroscopy of 34 Nyx stars using Keck/HIRES and Magellan/MIKE. A differential chemical abundance analysis shows that most Nyx stars reside in a metal-rich ([Fe/H] > −1) high-αcomponent that is chemically indistinguishable from the thick disk. This rules out the originally suggested scenario that Nyx is the remnant of a single massive dwarf galaxy merger. However, we also identify 5 substantially more metal-poor stars ([Fe/H] ∼ −2.0) whose chemical abundances are similar to those of the metal-weak thick disk. It remains unclear how stars that are chemically identical to the thick disk can be on such prograde, high-eccentricity orbits. We suggest two most likely scenarios: that Nyx is the result of an early minor dwarf galaxy merger, or that it is a record of the early spin-up of the Milky Way disk—although neither perfectly reproduces the chemodynamic observations. The most likely formation scenarios suggest that future spectroscopic surveys should find Nyx-like structures outside of the solar neighborhood.

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    Milky Way globular clusters (GCs) display chemical enrichment in a phenomenon called multiple stellar populations (MSPs). While the enrichment mechanism is not fully understood, there is a correlation between a cluster’s mass and the fraction of enriched stars found therein. However, present-day GC masses are often smaller than their masses at the time of formation due to dynamical mass-loss. In this work, we explore the relationship between mass and MSPs using the stellar stream 300S. We present the chemical abundances of eight red giant branch member stars in 300S with high-resolution spectroscopy from Magellan/MIKE. We identify one enriched star characteristic of MSPs and no detectable metallicity dispersion, confirming that the progenitor of 300S was a GC. The fraction of enriched stars (12.5 per cent) observed in our 300S stars is less than the 50 per cent of stars found enriched in Milky Way GCs of comparable present-day mass (∼104.5 $\mathrm{\, {\rm M}_{\odot }}$). We calculate the mass of 300S’s progenitor and compare it to the initial masses of intact GCs, finding that 300S aligns well with the trend between the system mass at formation and enrichment. 300S’s progenitor may straddle the critical mass threshold for the formation of MSPs and can therefore serve as a benchmark for the stellar enrichment process. Additionally, we identify a CH star, with high abundances of s-process elements, probably accreted from a binary companion. The rarity of such binaries in intact GCs may imply stellar streams permit the survival of binaries that would otherwise be disrupted.

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  7. Abstract The ultrafaint dwarf galaxy Reticulum II was enriched by a single rare and prolific r -process event. The r -process content of Reticulum II thus provides a unique opportunity to study metal mixing in a relic first galaxy. Using multi-object high-resolution spectroscopy with VLT/GIRAFFE and Magellan/M2FS, we identify 32 clear spectroscopic member stars and measure abundances of Mg, Ca, Fe, and Ba where possible. We find 72 − 12 + 10 % of the stars are r -process-enhanced, with a mean [ Ba / H ] = − 1.68 ± 0.07 and unresolved intrinsic dispersion σ [Ba/H] <0.20. The homogeneous r -process abundances imply that Ret II’s metals are well mixed by the time the r -enhanced stars form, which simulations have shown requires at least 100 Myr of metal mixing in between bursts of star formation to homogenize. This is the first direct evidence of bursty star formation in an ultrafaint dwarf galaxy. The homogeneous dilution prefers a prompt and high-yield r -process site, such as collapsar disk winds or prompt neutron star mergers. We also find evidence from [Ba/H] and [Mg/Ca] that the r -enhanced stars in Ret II formed in the absence of substantial pristine gas accretion, perhaps indicating that ≈70% of Ret II stars formed after reionization. 
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  8. Abstract

    The ages of the oldest stars shed light on the birth, chemical enrichment, and chemical evolution of the universe. Nucleocosmochronometry provides an avenue to determining the ages of these stars independent from stellar-evolution models. The uranium abundance, which can be determined for metal-poorr-process enhanced (RPE) stars, has been known to constitute one of the most robust chronometers known. So far, U abundance determination has used asingleUiiline atλ3859 Å. Consequently, U abundance has been reliably determined for only five RPE stars. Here, we present the first homogeneous U abundance analysis of four RPE stars using two novel Uiilines atλ4050 Å andλ4090 Å, in addition to the canonicalλ3859 Å line. We find that the Uiilines atλ4050 Å andλ4090 Å are reliable and render U abundances in agreement with theλ3859 U abundance, for all of the stars. We, thus, determine revised U abundances for RPE stars, 2MASS J09544277+5246414, RAVE J203843.2–002333, HE 1523–0901, and CS 31082–001, using multiple Uiilines. We also provide nucleocosmochronometric ages of these stars based on the newly derived U, Th, and Eu abundances. The results of this study open up a new avenue to reliably and homogeneously determine U abundance for a significantly larger number of RPE stars. This will, in turn, enable robust constraints on the nucleocosmochronometric ages of RPE stars, which can be applied to understand the chemical enrichment and evolution in the early universe, especially ofr-process elements.

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  9. Abstract

    The majority of the Milky Way’s stellar halo consists of debris from our galaxy’s last major merger, the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE). In the past few years, stars from the GSE have been kinematically and chemically studied in the inner 30 kpc of our galaxy. However, simulations predict that accreted debris could lie at greater distances, forming substructures in the outer halo. Here we derive metallicities and distances using Gaia DR3 XP spectra for an all-sky sample of luminous red giant stars, and map the outer halo with kinematics and metallicities out to 100 kpc. We obtain follow-up spectra of stars in two strong overdensities—including the previously identified outer Virgo Overdensity—and find them to be relatively metal rich and on predominantly retrograde orbits, matching predictions from simulations of the GSE merger. We argue that these are apocentric shells of GSE debris, forming 60–90 kpc counterparts to the 15–20 kpc shells that are known to dominate the inner stellar halo. Extending our search across the sky with literature radial velocities, we find evidence for a coherent stream of retrograde stars encircling the Milky Way from 50 to 100 kpc, in the same plane as the Sagittarius Stream but moving in the opposite direction. These are the first discoveries of distant and structured imprints from the GSE merger, cementing the picture of an inclined and retrograde collision that built up our galaxy’s stellar halo.

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  10. Abstract We present the first detailed comparison of populations of dwarf galaxy stellar streams in cosmological simulations and the Milky Way. In particular, we compare streams identified around 13 Milky Way analogs in the FIRE-2 simulations to streams observed by the Southern Stellar Stream Spectroscopic Survey ( S 5 ). For an accurate comparison, we produce mock Dark Energy Survey (DES) observations of the FIRE streams and estimate the detectability of their tidal tails and progenitors. The number and stellar mass distributions of detectable stellar streams is consistent between observations and simulations. However, there are discrepancies in the distributions of pericenters and apocenters, with the detectable FIRE streams, on average, forming at larger pericenters (out to >110 kpc) and surviving only at larger apocenters (≳40 kpc) than those observed in the Milky Way. We find that the population of high-stellar-mass dwarf galaxy streams in the Milky Way is incomplete. Interestingly, a large fraction of the FIRE streams would only be detected as intact satellites in DES-like observations, since their tidal tails have too low surface brightness to be detectable. We thus predict a population of yet-undetected tidal tails around Milky Way satellites, as well as a population of fully undetected low-surface-brightness stellar streams, and estimate their detectability with the Rubin Observatory. Finally, we discuss the causes and implications of the discrepancies between the stream populations in FIRE and the Milky Way, and explore future avenues for tests of satellite disruption in cosmological simulations. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 25, 2024