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  1. 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
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  2. The Galactic center region, including the nuclear disk, has until recently been largely avoided in chemical census studies because of extreme extinction and stellar crowding. Large, near-IR spectroscopic surveys, such as the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE), allow the measurement of metallicities in the inner region of our Galaxy. Making use of the latest APOGEE data release (DR16), we are able for the first time to study cool Asymptotic Giant branch (AGB) stars and supergiants in this region. The stellar parameters of five known AGB stars and one supergiant star (VR 5-7) show that their location is well above the tip of the red giant branch. We studied metallicities of 157 M giants situated within 150 pc of the Galactic center from observations obtained by the APOGEE survey with reliable stellar parameters from the APOGEE pipeline making use of the cool star grid down to 3200 K. Distances, interstellar extinction values, and radial velocities were checked to confirm that these stars are indeed situated in the Galactic center region. We detect a clear bimodal structure in the metallicity distribution function, with a dominant metal-rich peak of [Fe/H] ∼ +0.3 dex and a metal-poor peak around {Fe/H] = −0.5more »dex, which is 0.2 dex poorer than Baade’s Window. The α -elements Mg, Si, Ca, and O show a similar trend to the Galactic bulge. The metal-poor component is enhanced in the α -elements, suggesting that this population could be associated with the classical bulge and a fast formation scenario. We find a clear signature of a rotating nuclear stellar disk and a significant fraction of high-velocity stars with v gal  >  300 km s −1 ; the metal-rich stars show a much higher rotation velocity (∼200 km s −1 ) with respect to the metal-poor stars (∼140 km s −1 ). The chemical abundances as well as the metallicity distribution function suggest that the nuclear stellar disk and the nuclear star cluster show distinct chemical signatures and might be formed differently.« less
  3. Context. Asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars are cool luminous evolved stars that are well observable across the Galaxy and populating Gaia data. They have complex stellar surface dynamics, which amplifies the uncertainties on stellar parameters and distances. Aims. On the AGB star CL Lac, it has been shown that the convection-related variability accounts for a substantial part of the Gaia DR2 parallax error. We observed this star with the MIRC-X beam combiner installed at the CHARA interferometer to detect the presence of stellar surface inhomogeneities. Methods. We performed the reconstruction of aperture synthesis images from the interferometric observations at different wavelengths. Then, we used 3D radiative hydrodynamics (RHD) simulations of stellar convection with CO5BOLD and the post-processing radiative transfer code O PTIM 3D to compute intensity maps in the spectral channels of MIRC-X observations. Then, we determined the stellar radius using the average 3D intensity profile and, finally, compared the 3D synthetic maps to the reconstructed ones focusing on matching the intensity contrast, the morphology of stellar surface structures, and the photocentre position at two different spectral channels, 1.52 and 1.70 μ m, simultaneously. Results. We measured the apparent diameter of CL Lac at two wavelengths (3.299 ± 0.005 masmore »and 3.053 ± 0.006 mas at 1.52 and 1.70 μ m, respectively) and recovered the radius ( R = 307 ± 41 and R = 284 ± 38 R ⊙ ) using a Gaia parallax. In addition to this, the reconstructed images are characterised by the presence of a brighter area that largely affects the position of the photocentre. The comparison with 3D simulation shows good agreement with the observations both in terms of contrast and surface structure morphology, meaning that our model is adequate for explaining the observed inhomogenities. Conclusions. This work confirms the presence of convection-related surface structures on an AGB star of Gaia DR2. Our result will help us to take a step forward in exploiting Gaia measurement uncertainties to extract the fundamental properties of AGB stars using appropriate RHD simulations.« less
  4. Context. The ESA Gaia mission provides a unique time-domain survey for more than 1.6 billion sources with G ≲ 21 mag. Aims. We showcase stellar variability in the Galactic colour-absolute magnitude diagram (CaMD). We focus on pulsating, eruptive, and cataclysmic variables, as well as on stars that exhibit variability that is due to rotation and eclipses. Methods. We describe the locations of variable star classes, variable object fractions, and typical variability amplitudes throughout the CaMD and show how variability-related changes in colour and brightness induce “motions”. To do this, we use 22 months of calibrated photometric, spectro-photometric, and astrometric Gaia data of stars with a significant parallax. To ensure that a large variety of variable star classes populate the CaMD, we crossmatched Gaia sources with known variable stars. We also used the statistics and variability detection modules of the Gaia variability pipeline. Corrections for interstellar extinction are not implemented in this article. Results. Gaia enables the first investigation of Galactic variable star populations in the CaMD on a similar, if not larger, scale as was previously done in the Magellanic Clouds. Although the observed colours are not corrected for reddening, distinct regions are visible in which variable stars occur. Wemore »determine variable star fractions to within the current detection thresholds of Gaia . Finally, we report the most complete description of variability-induced motion within the CaMD to date. Conclusions. Gaia enables novel insights into variability phenomena for an unprecedented number of stars, which will benefit the understanding of stellar astrophysics. The CaMD of Galactic variable stars provides crucial information on physical origins of variability in a way that has previously only been accessible for Galactic star clusters or external galaxies. Future Gaia data releases will enable significant improvements over this preview by providing longer time series, more accurate astrometry, and additional data types (time series BP and RP spectra, RVS spectra, and radial velocities), all for much larger samples of stars.« less