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  1. ABSTRACT Using a sample of red giant stars from the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) Data Release 16, we infer the conditional distribution $p([\alpha /{\rm Fe}]\, |\, [{\rm Fe}/{\rm H}])$ in the Milky Way disk for the α-elements Mg, O, Si, S, and Ca. In each bin of [Fe/H] and Galactocentric radius R, we model p([α/Fe]) as a sum of two Gaussians, representing ‘low-α’ and ‘high-α’ populations with scale heights $z_1=0.45\, {\rm kpc}$ and $z_2=0.95\, {\rm kpc}$, respectively. By accounting for age-dependent and z-dependent selection effects in APOGEE, we infer the [α/Fe] distributions that would be found for a fair sample of long-lived stars covering all z. Near the Solar circle, this distribution is bimodal at sub-solar [Fe/H], with the low-α and high-α peaks clearly separated by a minimum at intermediate [α/Fe]. In agreement with previous results, we find that the high-α population is more prominent at smaller R, lower [Fe/H], and larger |z|, and that the sequence separation is smaller for Si and Ca than for Mg, O, and S. We find significant intrinsic scatter in [α/Fe] at fixed [Fe/H] for both the low-α and high-α populations, typically ∼0.04-dex. The means, dispersions, and relative amplitudes of thismore »two-Gaussian description, and the dependence of these parameters on R, [Fe/H], and α-element, provide a quantitative target for chemical evolution models and a test for hydrodynamic simulations of disk galaxy formation. We argue that explaining the observed bimodality will probably require one or more sharp transitions in the disk’s gas accretion, star formation, or outflow history in addition to radial mixing of stellar populations.« less
  2. Abstract We present a search for close, unresolved companions in a subset of spatially resolved Gaia wide binaries containing main-sequence stars within 200 pc of the Sun, utilizing the APOGEE–Gaia Wide Binary Catalog. A catalog of 37 wide binaries was created by selecting pairs of stars with nearly identical Gaia positions, parallaxes, and proper motions, and then confirming candidates to be gravitationally-bound pairs using APOGEE radial velocities. We identify close, unresolved stellar and substellar candidate companions in these multiple systems using (1) the Gaia binary main-sequence and (2) observed periodic radial velocity variations in APOGEE measurements due to the influence of a close substellar-mass companion. The studied wide binary pairs reveal a total of four stellar-mass close companions in four different wide binaries, and four substellar-mass close companion candidates in two wide binaries. The latter are therefore quadruple systems, with one substellar mass companion orbiting each wide binary component in an S-type orbit. Taken at face value, these candidate systems represent an enhancement of an order of magnitude over the expected occurrence rate of ∼2 per cent of stars having substellar companions >2 MJup within ∼100 day orbits; we discuss implications and possible explanations for this result. Finally, we compare chemical differences between the componentsmore »of the wide binaries and the components of the candidate higher-order systems and find that any chemical influence or correlation due to the presence of close companions to wide binary stars is not discernible.« less
  3. ABSTRACT Recent evidence based on APOGEE data for stars within a few kpc of the Galactic Centre suggests that dissolved globular clusters (GCs) contribute significantly to the stellar mass budget of the inner halo. In this paper, we enquire into the origins of tracers of GC dissolution, N-rich stars, that are located in the inner 4 kpc of the Milky Way. From an analysis of the chemical compositions of these stars, we establish that about 30 per cent of the N-rich stars previously identified in the inner Galaxy may have an accreted origin. This result is confirmed by an analysis of the kinematic properties of our sample. The specific frequency of N-rich stars is quite large in the accreted population, exceeding that of its in situ counterparts by near an order of magnitude, in disagreement with predictions from numerical simulations. We hope that our numbers provide a useful test to models of GC formation and destruction.
  4. ABSTRACT Numerous studies of integrated starlight, stellar counts, and kinematics have confirmed that the Milky Way is a barred galaxy. However, far fewer studies have investigated the bar’s stellar population properties, which carry valuable independent information regarding the bar’s formation history. Here, we conduct a detailed analysis of chemical abundance distributions ([Fe/H] and [Mg/Fe]) in the on-bar and off-bar regions to study the azimuthal variation of star formation history (SFH) in the inner Galaxy. We find that the on-bar and off-bar stars at Galactocentric radii 3 kpc < rGC < 5 kpc have remarkably consistent [Fe/H] and [Mg/Fe] distribution functions and [Mg/Fe]–[Fe/H] relation, suggesting a common SFH shared by the long bar and the disc. In contrast, the bar and disc at smaller radii (2 kpc < rGC < 3 kpc) show noticeable differences, with relatively more very metal-rich ($\rm [Fe/H] \sim 0.4$) stars but fewer solar abundance stars in the bar. Given the three-phase star formation history proposed for the inner Galaxy in Lian et al., these differences could be explained by the off-bar disc having experienced either a faster early quenching process or recent metal-poor gas accretion. Vertical variations of the abundance distributions at small rGC suggest a wider vertical distribution of low-αmore »stars in the bar, which may serve as chemical evidence for vertical heating through the bar buckling process. The lack of such vertical variations outside the bulge may then suggest a lack of vertical heating in the long bar.« less
  5. ABSTRACT The contribution of dissolved globular clusters (GCs) to the stellar content of the Galactic halo is a key constraint on models for GC formation and destruction, and the mass assembly history of the Milky Way. Earlier results from APOGEE pointed to a large contribution of destroyed GCs to the stellar content of the inner halo, by as much as 25 ${{\ \rm per\ cent}}$, which is an order of magnitude larger than previous estimates for more distant regions of the halo. We set out to measure the ratio between nitrogen-rich (N-rich) and normal halo field stars, as a function of distance, by performing density modelling of halo field populations in APOGEE DR16. Our results show that at 1.5 kpc from the Galactic Centre, N-rich stars contribute a much higher 16.8$^{+10.0}_{-7.0}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ fraction to the total stellar halo mass budget than the 2.7$^{+1.0}_{-0.8}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ ratio contributed at 10 kpc. Under the assumption that N-rich stars are former GC members that now reside in the stellar halo field, and assuming the ratio between first and second population GC stars being 1:2, we estimate a total contribution from disrupted GC stars of the order of 27.5$^{+15.4}_{-11.5}\, {{\ \rmmore »per\ cent}}$ at r = 1.5 kpc and 4.2$^{+1.5}_{-1.3}\, {{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ at r = 10 kpc. Furthermore, since our methodology requires fitting a density model to the stellar halo, we integrate such density within a spherical shell from 1.5 to 15 kpc in radius, and find a total stellar mass arising from dissolved and/or evaporated GCs of MGC,total = 9.6$^{+4.0}_{-2.6}\, \times$ 107 M⊙.« less
  6. Abstract The SDSS-IV Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey has obtained high-resolution spectra for thousands of red giant stars distributed among the massive satellite galaxies of the Milky Way (MW): the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC/SMC), the Sagittarius Dwarf Galaxy (Sgr), Fornax (Fnx), and the now fully disrupted Gaia Sausage/Enceladus (GSE) system. We present and analyze the APOGEE chemical abundance patterns of each galaxy to draw robust conclusions about their star formation histories, by quantifying the relative abundance trends of multiple elements (C, N, O, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Fe, Ni, and Ce), as well as by fitting chemical evolution models to the [ α /Fe]–[Fe/H] abundance plane for each galaxy. Results show that the chemical signatures of the starburst in the Magellanic Clouds (MCs) observed by Nidever et al. in the α -element abundances extend to C+N, Al, and Ni, with the major burst in the SMC occurring some 3–4 Gyr before the burst in the LMC. We find that Sgr and Fnx also exhibit chemical abundance patterns suggestive of secondary star formation epochs, but these events were weaker and earlier (∼5–7 Gyr ago) than those observed in the MCs. There is no chemical evidence ofmore »a second starburst in GSE, but this galaxy shows the strongest initial star formation as compared to the other four galaxies. All dwarf galaxies had greater relative contributions of AGB stars to their enrichment than the MW. Comparing and contrasting these chemical patterns highlight the importance of galaxy environment on its chemical evolution.« less