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  1. Abstract The APOGEE Open Cluster Chemical Abundances and Mapping survey is used to probe the chemical evolution of the s-process element cerium in the Galactic disk. Cerium abundances were derived from measurements of Ce ii lines in the APOGEE spectra using the Brussels Automatic Code for Characterizing High Accuracy Spectra in 218 stars belonging to 42 open clusters. Our results indicate that, in general, for ages < 4 Gyr, younger open clusters have higher [Ce/Fe] and [Ce/ α -element] ratios than older clusters. In addition, metallicity segregates open clusters in the [Ce/X]–age plane (where X can be H, Fe, or the α -elements O, Mg, Si, or Ca). These metallicity-dependent relations result in [Ce/Fe] and [Ce/ α ] ratios with ages that are not universal clocks. Radial gradients of [Ce/H] and [Ce/Fe] ratios in open clusters, binned by age, were derived for the first time, with d [Ce/H]/ d R GC being negative, while d [Ce/Fe]/ d R GC is positive. [Ce/H] and [Ce/Fe] gradients are approximately constant over time, with the [Ce/Fe] gradient becoming slightly steeper, changing by ∼+0.009 dex kpc −1 Gyr −1 . Both the [Ce/H] and [Ce/Fe] gradients are shifted to lower values of [Ce/H] andmore »[Ce/Fe] for older open clusters. The chemical pattern of Ce in open clusters across the Galactic disk is discussed within the context of s-process yields from asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars, gigayear time delays in Ce enrichment of the interstellar medium, and the strong dependence of Ce nucleosynthesis on the metallicity of its AGB stellar sources.« less
  2. We investigate the inner regions of the Milky Way using data from APOGEE and Gaia EDR3. Our inner Galactic sample has more than 26 500 stars within | X Gal |< 5 kpc, | Y Gal |< 3.5 kpc, | Z Gal |< 1 kpc, and we also carry out the analysis for a foreground-cleaned subsample of 8000 stars that is more representative of the bulge–bar populations. These samples allow us to build chemo-dynamical maps of the stellar populations with vastly improved detail. The inner Galaxy shows an apparent chemical bimodality in key abundance ratios [ α /Fe], [C/N], and [Mn/O], which probe different enrichment timescales, suggesting a star formation gap (quenching) between the high- and low- α populations. Using a joint analysis of the distributions of kinematics, metallicities, mean orbital radius, and chemical abundances, we can characterize the different populations coexisting in the innermost regions of the Galaxy for the first time. The chemo-kinematic data dissected on an eccentricity–| Z | max plane reveal the chemical and kinematic signatures of the bar, the thin inner disc, and an inner thick disc, and a broad metallicity population with large velocity dispersion indicative of a pressure-supported component. The interplay between thesemore »different populations is mapped onto the different metallicity distributions seen in the eccentricity–| Z | max diagram consistently with the mean orbital radius and V ϕ distributions. A clear metallicity gradient as a function of | Z | max is also found, which is consistent with the spatial overlapping of different populations. Additionally, we find and chemically and kinematically characterize a group of counter-rotating stars that could be the result of a gas-rich merger event or just the result of clumpy star formation during the earliest phases of the early disc that migrated into the bulge. Finally, based on 6D information, we assign stars a probability value of being on a bar orbit and find that most of the stars with large bar orbit probabilities come from the innermost 3 kpc, with a broad dispersion of metallicity. Even stars with a high probability of belonging to the bar show chemical bimodality in the [ α /Fe] versus [Fe/H] diagram. This suggests bar trapping to be an efficient mechanism, explaining why stars on bar orbits do not show a significant, distinct chemical abundance ratio signature.« less
  3. The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is the closest and most studied example of an irregular galaxy. Among its principal defining morphological features, its off-centred bar and single spiral arm stand out, defining a whole family of galaxies known as the Magellanic spirals (Sm). These structures are thought to be triggered by tidal interactions and possibly maintained via gas accretion. However, it is still unknown whether they are long-lived stable structures. In this work, by combining photometry that reaches down to the oldest main sequence turn-off in the colour-magnitude diagrams (CMD, up to a distance of ∼4.4 kpc from the LMC centre) from the SMASH survey and CMD fitting techniques, we find compelling evidence supporting the long-term stability of the LMC spiral arm, dating the origin of this structure to more than 2 Gyr ago. The evidence suggests that the close encounter between the LMC and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) that produced the gaseous Magellanic Stream and its Leading Arm also triggered the formation of the LMC’s spiral arm. Given the mass difference between the Clouds and the notable consequences of this interaction, we can speculate that this should have been one of their closest encounters. These results set importantmore »constraints on the timing of LMC-SMC collisions, as well as on the physics behind star formation induced by tidal encounters.« less