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Creators/Authors contains: "Naidu, Rohan P."

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    We model the stellar abundances and ages of two disrupted dwarf galaxies in the Milky Way stellar halo: Gaia-Sausage Enceladus (GSE) and Wukong/LMS-1. Using a statistically robust likelihood function, we fit one-zone models of galactic chemical evolution with exponential infall histories to both systems, deriving e-folding time-scales of τin = 1.01 ± 0.13 Gyr for GSE and $\tau _\text{in} = 3.08^{+3.19}_{-1.16}$ Gyr for Wukong/LMS-1. GSE formed stars for $\tau _\text{tot} = 5.40^{+0.32}_{-0.31}$ Gyr, sustaining star formation for ∼1.5–2 Gyr after its first infall into the Milky Way ∼10 Gyr ago. Our fit suggests that star formation lasted for $\tau _\text{tot} = 3.36^{+0.55}_{-0.47}$ Gyr in Wukong/LMS-1, though our sample does not contain any age measurements. The differences in evolutionary parameters between the two are qualitatively consistent with trends with stellar mass M⋆ predicted by simulations and semi-analytic models of galaxy formation. Our inferred values of the outflow mass-loading factor reasonably match $\eta \propto M_\star ^{-1/3}$ as predicted by galactic wind models. Our fitting method is based only on Poisson sampling from an evolutionary track and requires no binning of the data. We demonstrate its accuracy by testing against mock data, showing that it accurately recovers the input model across a broad range of sample sizes (20 ≤ N ≤ 2000) and measurement uncertainties (0.01 ≤ σ[α/Fe], σ[Fe/H] ≤ 0.5; $0.02 \le \sigma _{\log _{10}(\text{age})} \le 1$). Due to the generic nature of our derivation, this likelihood function should be applicable to one-zone models of any parametrization and easily extensible to other astrophysical models which predict tracks in some observed space.

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  2. Abstract

    The Magellanic Stream (MS)—an enormous ribbon of gas spanning 140° of the southern sky trailing the Magellanic Clouds—has been exquisitely mapped in the five decades since its discovery. However, despite concerted efforts, no stellar counterpart to the MS has been conclusively identified. This stellar stream would reveal the distance and 6D kinematics of the MS, constraining its formation and the past orbital history of the Clouds. We have been conducting a spectroscopic survey of the most distant and luminous red giant stars in the Galactic outskirts. From this data set, we have discovered a prominent population of 13 stars matching the extreme angular momentum of the Clouds, spanning up to 100° along the MS at distances of 60–120 kpc. Furthermore, these kinematically selected stars lie along an [α/Fe]-deficient track in chemical space from −2.5 < [Fe/H] <− 0.5, consistent with their formation in the Clouds themselves. We identify these stars as high-confidence members of the Magellanic Stellar Stream. Half of these stars are metal-rich and closely follow the gaseous MS, whereas the other half are more scattered and metal-poor. We argue that the metal-rich stream is the recently formed tidal counterpart to the MS, and we speculate that the metal-poor population was thrown out of the SMC outskirts during an earlier interaction between the Clouds. The Magellanic Stellar Stream provides a strong set of constraints—distances, 6D kinematics, and birth locations—that will guide future simulations toward unveiling the detailed history of the Clouds.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 27, 2024
  4. 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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  5. Abstract Modern Galactic surveys have revealed an ancient merger that dominates the stellar halo of our galaxy (Gaia–Sausage–Enceladus, GSE). Using chemical abundances and kinematics from the H3 Survey, we identify 5559 halo stars from this merger in the radial range r Gal = 6–60kpc. We forward model the full selection function of H3 to infer the density profile of this accreted component of the stellar halo. We consider a general ellipsoid with principal axes allowed to rotate with respect to the galactocentric axes, coupled with a multiply broken power law. The best-fit model is a triaxial ellipsoid (axes ratios 10:8:7) tilted 25° above the Galactic plane toward the Sun and a doubly broken power law with breaking radii at 12 kpc and 28 kpc. The doubly broken power law resolves a long-standing dichotomy in literature values of the halo breaking radius, being at either ∼15 kpc or ∼30 kpc assuming a singly broken power law. N -body simulations suggest that the breaking radii are connected to apocenter pile-ups of stellar orbits, and so the observed double-break provides new insight into the initial conditions and evolution of the GSE merger. Furthermore, the tilt and triaxiality of the stellar halo could imply that a fraction of the underlying dark matter halo is also tilted and triaxial. This has important implications for dynamical mass modeling of the galaxy as well as direct dark matter detection experiments. 
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  6. Abstract

    Recent observations of the stellar halo have uncovered the debris of an ancient merger, Gaia–Sausage–Enceladus (GSE), estimated to have occurred ≳8 Gyr ago. Follow-up studies have associated GSE with a large-scale tilt in the stellar halo that links two well-known stellar overdensities in diagonally opposing octants of the Galaxy (the Hercules–Aquila Cloud and Virgo Overdensity; HAC and VOD). In this paper, we study the plausibility of such unmixed merger debris persisting over several gigayears in the Galactic halo. We employ the simulated stellar halo from Naidu et al., which reproduces several key properties of the merger remnant, including the large-scale tilt. By integrating the orbits of these simulated stellar halo particles, we show that adoption of a spherical halo potential results in rapid phase mixing of the asymmetry. However, adopting a tilted halo potential preserves the initial asymmetry in the stellar halo for many gigayears. The asymmetry is preserved even when a realistic growing disk is added to the potential. These results suggest that HAC and VOD are long-lived structures that are associated with GSE and that the dark matter halo of the Galaxy is tilted with respect to the disk and aligned in the direction of HAC–VOD. Such halo–disk misalignment is common in modern cosmological simulations. Lastly, we study the relationship between the local and global stellar halo in light of a tilted global halo comprised of highly radial orbits. We find that the local halo offers a dynamically biased view of the global halo due to its displacement from the Galactic center.

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  7. Abstract

    We report the discovery of Specter, a disrupted ultrafaint dwarf galaxy revealed by the H3 Spectroscopic Survey. We detected this structure via a pair of comoving metal-poor stars at a distance of 12.5 kpc, and further characterized it with Gaia astrometry and follow-up spectroscopy. Specter is a 25° × 1° stream of stars that is entirely invisible until strict kinematic cuts are applied to remove the Galactic foreground. The spectroscopic members suggest a stellar ageτ≳ 12 Gyr and a mean metallicity[Fe/H]=1.840.18+0.16, with a significant intrinsic metallicity dispersionσ[Fe/H]=0.370.13+0.21. We therefore argue that Specter is the disrupted remnant of an ancient dwarf galaxy. With an integrated luminosityMV≈ −2.6, Specter is by far the least-luminous dwarf galaxy stream known. We estimate that dozens of similar streams are lurking below the detection threshold of current search techniques, and conclude that spectroscopic surveys offer a novel means to identify extremely low surface brightness structures.

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  8. null (Ed.)
  9. Abstract The astrophysical origins of r -process elements remain elusive. Neutron star mergers (NSMs) and special classes of core-collapse supernovae (rCCSNe) are leading candidates. Due to these channels’ distinct characteristic timescales (rCCSNe: prompt, NSMs: delayed), measuring r -process enrichment in galaxies of similar mass but differing star formation durations might prove informative. Two recently discovered disrupted dwarfs in the Milky Way’s stellar halo, Kraken and Gaia-Sausage Enceladus (GSE), afford precisely this opportunity: Both have M ⋆ ≈ 10 8 M ⊙ but differing star formation durations of ≈2 Gyr and ≈3.6 Gyr. Here we present R ≈ 50,000 Magellan/MIKE spectroscopy for 31 stars from these systems, detecting the r -process element Eu in all stars. Stars from both systems have similar [Mg/H] ≈ −1, but Kraken has a median [Eu/Mg] ≈ −0.1 while GSE has an elevated [Eu/Mg] ≈ 0.2. With simple models, we argue NSM enrichment must be delayed by 500–1000 Myr to produce this difference. rCCSNe must also contribute, especially at early epochs, otherwise stars formed during the delay period would be Eu free. In this picture, rCCSNe account for ≈50% of the Eu in Kraken, ≈25% in GSE, and ≈15% in dwarfs with extended star formation durations like Sagittarius. The inferred delay time for NSM enrichment is 10×–100× longer than merger delay times from stellar population synthesis—this is not necessarily surprising because the enrichment delay includes time taken for NSM ejecta to be incorporated into subsequent generations of stars. For example, this may be due to natal kicks that result in r -enriched material deposited far from star-forming gas, which then takes ≈10 8 –10 9 yr to cool in these galaxies. 
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  10. Abstract Several lines of evidence suggest that the Milky Way underwent a major merger at z ∼ 2 with the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE) galaxy. Here we use H3 Survey data to argue that GSE entered the Galaxy on a retrograde orbit based on a population of highly retrograde stars with chemistry similar to the largely radial GSE debris. We present the first tailored N -body simulations of the merger. From a grid of ≈500 simulations we find that a GSE with M ⋆ = 5 × 10 8 M ⊙ , M DM = 2 × 10 11 M ⊙ best matches the H3 data. This simulation shows that the retrograde stars are stripped from GSE’s outer disk early in the merger. Despite being selected purely on angular momenta and radial distributions, this simulation reproduces and explains the following phenomena: (i) the triaxial shape of the inner halo, whose major axis is at ≈35° to the plane and connects GSE’s apocenters; (ii) the Hercules-Aquila Cloud and the Virgo Overdensity, which arise due to apocenter pileup; and (iii) the 2 Gyr lag between the quenching of GSE and the truncation of the age distribution of the in situ halo, which tracks the lag between the first and final GSE pericenters. We make the following predictions: (i) the inner halo has a “double-break” density profile with breaks at both ≈15–18 kpc and 30 kpc, coincident with the GSE apocenters; and (ii) the outer halo has retrograde streams awaiting discovery at >30 kpc that contain ≈10% of GSE’s stars. The retrograde (radial) GSE debris originates from its outer (inner) disk—exploiting this trend, we reconstruct the stellar metallicity gradient of GSE (−0.04 ± 0.01 dex r 50 − 1 ). These simulations imply that GSE delivered ≈20% of the Milky Way’s present-day dark matter and ≈50% of its stellar halo. 
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