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Creators/Authors contains: "Price-Whelan, Adrian M."

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  1. ABSTRACT

    The second data release of ESA’s Gaia mission revealed numerous signatures of disequilibrium in the Milky Way’s disc. These signatures are seen in the planar kinematics of stars, which manifest as ridges and ripples in R–vϕ, and in vertical kinematics, where a prominent spiral is seen in the z–vz phase space. In this work, we show an equivalent ΔR–vR phase spiral forms following a perturbation to the disc. We demonstrate the behaviour of the ΔR–vR phase spirals in both a toy model and a high-resolution N-body simulation of a satellite interaction. We then confront these models with the data, where we find partial ΔR–vR phase spirals in the Solar neighbourhood using the most recent data from Gaia DR3. This structure indicates ongoing radial phase mixing in the Galactic disc, suggesting a history of recent perturbations, either through internal or external (e.g. satellite) processes. Future work modelling the z–vz and ΔR–vR phase spirals in tandem may help break degeneracy’s between possible origins of the perturbation.

     
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  2. Abstract

    Recent observations have revealed a trove of unexpected morphological features in many of the Milky Way’s stellar streams. Explanations for such features include time-dependent deformations of the Galactic gravitational potential, local disruptions induced by dark matter substructure, and special configurations of the streams’ progenitors. In this paper, we study how these morphologies can also arise in certain static, nonspherical gravitational potentials that host a subset of resonantly trapped orbit families. The transitions, or separatrices, between these orbit families mark abrupt discontinuities in the orbital structure of the potential. We develop a novel numerical approach for measuring the libration frequencies of resonant and near-resonant orbits and apply it to study the evolution of stellar streams on these orbits. We reveal two distinct morphological features that arise in streams on near-resonant orbits: fans, which come about due to a large spread in the libration frequencies near a separatrix, and bifurcations, which arise when a separatrix splits the orbital distribution of the stellar stream between two (or more) distinct orbit families. We demonstrate that these effects can arise in some Milky Way streams for certain choices of the dark matter halo potential and discuss how this might be used to probe and constrain the global shape of the Milky Way’s gravitational potential.

     
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  3. Abstract In the coming decade, thousands of stellar streams will be observed in the halos of external galaxies. What fundamental discoveries will we make about dark matter from these streams? As a first attempt to look at these questions, we model Magellan/Megacam imaging of the Centaurus A (Cen A) disrupting dwarf companion Dwarf 3 (Dw3) and its associated stellar stream, to find out what can be learned about the Cen A dark matter halo. We develop a novel external galaxy stream-fitting technique and generate model stellar streams that reproduce the stream morphology visible in the imaging. We find that there are many viable stream models that fit the data well, with reasonable parameters, provided that Cen A has a halo mass larger than M 200 > 4.70 × 10 12 M ⊙ . There is a second stream in Cen A’s halo that is also reproduced within the context of this same dynamical model. However, stream morphology in the imaging alone does not uniquely determine the mass or mass distribution for the Cen A halo. In particular, the stream models with high likelihood show covariances between the inferred Cen A mass distribution, the inferred Dw3 progenitor mass, the Dw3 velocity, and the Dw3 line-of-sight position. We show that these degeneracies can be broken with radial-velocity measurements along the stream, and that a single radial velocity measurement puts a substantial lower limit on the halo mass. These results suggest that targeted radial-velocity measurements will be critical if we want to learn about dark matter from extragalactic stellar streams. 
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  4. ABSTRACT

    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 properties of the assumed potential.

     
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  5. Abstract

    The total mass of the Local Group (LG) is a fundamental quantity that enables interpreting the orbits of its constituent galaxies and placing the LG in a cosmological context. One of the few methods that allows inferring the total mass directly is the “Timing Argument,” which models the relative orbit of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 in equilibrium. The MW itself is not in equilibrium, a byproduct of its merger history and including the recent pericentric passage of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and recent work has found that the MW disk is moving with a lower bound “travel velocity” of ∼32 km s−1with respect to the outer stellar halo. Previous Timing Argument measurements have attempted to account for this nonequilibrium state, but have been restricted to theoretical predictions for the impact of the LMC specifically. In this paper, we quantify the impact of a travel velocity on recovered LG mass estimates using several different compilations of recent kinematic measurements of M31. We find that incorporating the measured value of the travel velocity lowers the inferred LG mass by 10%–12% compared to a static MW halo. Measurements of the travel velocity with more distant tracers could yield even larger values, which would further decrease the inferred LG mass. Therefore, the newly measured travel velocity directly implies a lower LG mass than from a model with a static MW halo and must be considered in future dynamical studies of the Local Volume.

     
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  6. Abstract

    Stellar streams in the Galactic halo are useful probes of the assembly of galaxies like the Milky Way. Many tidal stellar streams that have been found in recent years are accompanied by a known progenitor globular cluster or dwarf galaxy. However, the Orphan–Chenab (OC) stream is one case where a relatively narrow stream of stars has been found without a known progenitor. In an effort to find the parent of the OC stream, we use astrometry from the early third data release of ESA’s Gaia mission (Gaia EDR3) and radial velocity information from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS)-IV Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey to find up to 13 stars that are likely members of the OC stream. We use the APOGEE survey to study the chemical nature (for up to 10 stars) of the OC stream in theα(O, Mg, Ca, Si, Ti, and S), odd-Z(Al, K, and V), Fe-peak (Fe, Ni, Mn, Co, and Cr), and neutron-capture (Ce) elemental groups. We find that the stars that make up the OC stream are not consistent with a monometallic population and have a median metallicity of −1.92 dex with a dispersion of 0.28 dex. Our results also indicate that the α elements are depleted compared to the known Milky Way populations and that its [Mg/Al] abundance ratio is not consistent with second-generation stars from globular clusters. The detailed chemical pattern of these stars, namely the [α/Fe]–[Fe/H] plane and the metallicity distribution, indicates that the OC stream progenitor is very likely to be a dwarf spheroidal galaxy with a mass of ∼106M.

     
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  7. ABSTRACT

    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 properties to infer the properties of the interactions that caused them.

     
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  8. Precise Gaia measurements of positions, parallaxes, and proper motions provide an opportunity to calculate 3D positions and 2D velocities (i.e., 5D phase-space) of Milky Way stars. Where available, spectroscopic radial velocity (RV) measurements provide full 6D phase-space information, however there are now and will remain many stars without RV measurements. Without an RV it is not possible to directly calculate 3D stellar velocities; however, one can infer 3D stellar velocities by marginalizing over the missing RV dimension. In this paper, we infer the 3D velocities of stars in the Kepler field in Cartesian Galactocentric coordinates (vx, vy, vz). We directly calculate velocities for around a quarter of all Kepler targets, using RV measurements available from the Gaia, LAMOST, and APOGEE spectroscopic surveys. Using the velocity distributions of these stars as our prior, we infer velocities for the remaining three quarters of the sample by marginalizing over the RV dimension. The median uncertainties on our inferred vx, vy, and vz velocities are around 4, 18, and 4 km/s, respectively. We provide 3D velocities for a total of 148,590 stars in the Kepler field. These 3D velocities could enable kinematic age-dating, Milky Way stellar population studies, and other scientific studies using the benchmark sample of well-studied Kepler stars. Although the methodology used here is broadly applicable to targets across the sky, our prior is specifically constructed from and for the Kepler field. Care should be taken to use a suitable prior when extending this method to other parts of the Galaxy. 
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  9. Abstract We created the APOGEE-GALEX-Gaia catalog to study white dwarf (WD) binaries. This database aims to create a minimally biased sample of WD binary systems identified from a combination of GALEX, Gaia, and APOGEE data to increase the number of WD binaries with orbital parameters and chemical compositions. We identify 3414 sources as WD binary candidates, with nondegenerate companions of spectral types between F and M, including main-sequence stars, main-sequence binaries, subgiants, sub-subgiants, red giants, and red clump stars. Among our findings are (a) a total of 1806 systems having inferred WD radii R < 25 R ⊕ , which constitute a more reliable group of WD binary candidates within the main sample; (b) a difference in the metallicity distribution function between WD binary candidates and the control sample of most luminous giants ( M H < −3.0); (c) the existence of a population of sub-subgiants with WD companions; (d) evidence for shorter periods in binaries that contain WDs compared to those that do not, as shown by the cumulative distributions of APOGEE radial velocity shifts; (e) evidence for systemic orbital evolution in a sample of 252 WD binaries with orbital periods, based on differences in the period distribution between systems with red clump, main-sequence binary, and sub-subgiant companions and systems with main-sequence or red giant companions; and (f) evidence for chemical enrichment during common envelope (CE) evolution, shown by lower metallicities in wide WD binary candidates ( P > 100 days) compared to post-CE ( P < 100 days) WD binary candidates. 
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  10. ABSTRACT

    We analyse two binary systems containing giant stars, V723 Mon (‘the Unicorn’) and 2M04123153+6738486 (‘the Giraffe’). Both giants orbit more massive but less luminous companions, previously proposed to be mass-gap black holes. Spectral disentangling reveals luminous companions with star-like spectra in both systems. Joint modelling of the spectra, light curves, and spectral energy distributions robustly constrains the masses, temperatures, and radii of both components: the primaries are luminous, cool giants ($T_{\rm eff,\, giant} = 3800$ and $4000\, \rm K$, $R_{\rm giant}= 22.5$ and $25\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) with exceptionally low masses ($M_{\rm giant} \approx 0.4\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$) that likely fill their Roche lobes. The secondaries are only slightly warmer subgiants ($T_{\rm eff,\, 2} = 5800$ and $5150\, \rm K$, $R_2= 8.3$ and $9\, {\rm R}_{\odot }$) and thus are consistent with observed UV limits that would rule out main-sequence stars with similar masses ($M_2 \approx 2.8$ and ${\approx}1.8\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$). In the Unicorn, rapid rotation blurs the spectral lines of the subgiant, making it challenging to detect even at wavelengths where it dominates the total light. Both giants have surface abundances indicative of CNO processing and subsequent envelope stripping. The properties of both systems can be reproduced by binary evolution models in which a $1{-}2\, {\rm M}_{\odot }$ primary is stripped by a companion as it ascends the giant branch. The fact that the companions are also evolved implies either that the initial mass ratio was very near unity, or that the companions are temporarily inflated due to rapid accretion. The Unicorn and Giraffe offer a window into into a rarely observed phase of binary evolution preceding the formation of wide-orbit helium white dwarfs, and eventually, compact binaries containing two helium white dwarfs.

     
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