skip to main content

Search for: All records

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

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.


    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.

    « less
  2. 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 evenmore »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.

    « less

    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.

    « less
  4. 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 betweenmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 6, 2023

    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 reproducedmore »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.

    « less
  6. 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.

    « less
  7. Abstract A significant fraction of Milky Way (MW) satellites exhibit phase-space properties consistent with a coherent orbital plane. Using tailored N -body simulations of a spherical MW halo that recently captured a massive (1.8 × 10 11 M ⊙ ) LMC-like satellite, we identify the physical mechanisms that may enhance the clustering of orbital poles of objects orbiting the MW. The LMC deviates the orbital poles of MW dark matter particles from the present-day random distribution. Instead, the orbital poles of particles beyond R ≈ 50 kpc cluster near the present-day orbital pole of the LMC along a sinusoidal pattern across the sky. The density of orbital poles is enhanced near the LMC by a factor δ ρ max = 30% (50%) with respect to underdense regions and δ ρ iso = 15% (30%) relative to the isolated MW simulation (no LMC) between 50 and 150 kpc (150–300 kpc). The clustering appears after the LMC’s pericenter (≈50 Myr ago, 49 kpc) and lasts for at least 1 Gyr. Clustering occurs because of three effects: (1) the LMC shifts the velocity and position of the central density of the MW’s halo and disk; (2) the dark matter dynamical friction wake andmore »collective response induced by the LMC change the kinematics of particles; (3) observations of particles selected within spatial planes suffer from a bias, such that measuring orbital poles in a great circle in the sky enhances the probability of their orbital poles being clustered. This scenario should be ubiquitous in hosts that recently captured a massive satellite (at least ≈1:10 mass ratio), causing the clustering of orbital poles of halo tracers.« less
  8. Abstract

    The goal of the Open Cluster Chemical Abundances and Mapping (OCCAM) survey is to constrain key Galactic dynamic and chemical evolution parameters by the construction and analysis of a large, comprehensive, uniform data set of infrared spectra for stars in hundreds of open clusters. This sixth contribution from the OCCAM survey presents analysis of SDSS/APOGEE Data Release 17 (DR17) results for a sample of stars in 150 open clusters, 94 of which we designate to be “high-quality” based on the appearance of their color–magnitude diagram. We find the APOGEE DR17-derived [Fe/H] values to be in good agreement with those from previous high-resolution spectroscopic open cluster abundance studies. Using a subset of the high-quality sample, the Galactic abundance gradients were measured for 16 chemical elements, including [Fe/H], for both Galactocentric radius (RGC) and guiding center radius (Rguide). We find an overall Galactic [Fe/H] versusRGCgradient of −0.073 ± 0.002 dex kpc−1over the range of 6 >RGC< 11.5 kpc, and a similar gradient is found for [Fe/H] versusRguide. Significant Galactic abundance gradients are also noted for O, Mg, S, Ca, Mn, Na, Al, K, and Ce. Our large sample additionally allows us to explore the evolution of the gradients in four agemore »bins for the remaining 15 elements.

    « less
  9. ABSTRACT Flattened axisymmetric galactic potentials are known to host minor orbit families surrounding orbits with commensurable frequencies. The behaviour of orbits that belong to these orbit families is fundamentally different than that of typical orbits with non-commensurable frequencies. We investigate the evolution of stellar streams on orbits near the boundaries between orbit families (separatrices) in a flattened axisymmetric potential. We demonstrate that the separatrix divides these streams into two groups of stars that belong to two different orbit families, and that as a result, these streams diffuse more rapidly than streams that evolve elsewhere in the potential. We utilize Hamiltonian perturbation theory to estimate both the time-scale of this effect and the likelihood of a stream evolving close enough to a separatrix to be affected by it. We analyse two prior reports of stream-fanning in simulations with triaxial potentials, and conclude that at least one of them is caused by separatrix divergence. These results lay the foundation for a method of mapping the orbit families of galactic potentials using the morphology of stellar streams. Comparing these predictions with the currently known distribution of streams in the Milky Way presents a new way of constraining the shape of our Galaxy’s potentialmore »and distribution of dark matter.« less