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    Standard stellar evolution theory poorly predicts the surface abundances of chemical species in low-mass, red giant branch (RGB) stars. Observations show an enhancement of p–p chain and CNO cycle products in red giant envelopes, which suggests the existence of non-canonical mixing that brings interior burning products to the surface of these stars. The 12C/13C ratio is a highly sensitive abundance metric used to probe this mixing. We investigate extra RGB mixing by examining: (1) how 12C/13C is altered along the RGB, and (2) how 12C/13C changes for stars of varying age and mass. Our sample consists of 43 red giants, spread over 15 open clusters from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s APOGEE DR17, that have reliable 12C/13C ratios derived from their APOGEE spectra. We vetted these 12C/13C ratios and compared them as a function of evolution and age/mass to the standard mixing model of stellar evolution, and to a model that includes prescriptions for RGB thermohaline mixing and stellar rotation. We find that the observations deviate from standard mixing models, implying the need for extra mixing. Additionally, some of the abundance patterns depart from the thermohaline model, and it is unclear whether these differences are due to incomplete observations, issues inherent to the model, our assumption of the cause of extra mixing, or any combination of these factors. Nevertheless, the surface abundances across our age/mass range clearly deviate from the standard model, agreeing with the notion of a universal mechanism for RGB extra mixing in low-mass stars.

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  2. Abstract We present analyses of improved photometric and spectroscopic observations for two detached eclipsing binaries at the turnoff of the open cluster NGC 752: the 1.01 days binary DS And and the 15.53 days BD +37 410. For DS And, we find M 1 = 1.692 ± 0.004 ± 0.010 M ⊙ , R 1 = 2.185 ± 0.004 ± 0.008 R ⊙ , M 2 = 1.184 ± 0.001 ± 0.003 M ⊙ , and R 2 = 1.200 ± 0.003 ± 0.005 R ⊙ . We either confirm or newly identify unusual characteristics of both stars in the binary: the primary star is found to be slightly hotter than the main-sequence turnoff and there is a more substantial discrepancy in its luminosity compared to models (model luminosities are too large by about 40%), while the secondary star is oversized and cooler compared to other main-sequence stars in the same cluster. The evidence points to nonstandard evolution for both stars, but most plausible paths cannot explain the low luminosity of the primary star. BD +37 410 only has one eclipse per cycle, but extensive spectroscopic observations and the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite light curve constrain the stellar masses well: M 1 = 1.717 ± 0.011 M ⊙ and M 2 = 1.175 ± 0.005 M ⊙ . The radius of the main-sequence primary star near 2.9 R ⊙ definitively requires large convective core overshooting (>0.2 pressure scale heights) in models for its mass, and multiple lines of evidence point toward an age of 1.61 ± 0.03 ± 0.05 Gyr (statistical and systematic uncertainties). Because NGC 752 is currently undergoing the transition from nondegenerate to degenerate He ignition of its red clump stars, BD +37 410 A directly constrains the star mass where this transition occurs. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 6, 2023
  3. Abstract

    The LIGO HET Response (LIGHETR) project is an enterprise to follow up optical transients (OTs) discovered as gravitational-wave merger sources by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration (LVC). Early spectroscopy has the potential to constrain crucial parameters such as the aspect angle. The LIGHETR collaboration also includes the capacity to model the spectroscopic evolution of mergers to facilitate a real-time direct comparison of models with our data. The principal facility is the Hobby–Eberly Telescope. LIGHETR uses the massively replicated VIRUS array of spectrographs to search for associated OTs and obtain early blue spectra, and in a complementary role, the low-resolution LRS2 spectrograph is used to obtain spectra of viable candidates as well as a densely sampled series of spectra of true counterparts. Once an OT is identified, the anticipated cadence of spectra would match or considerably exceed anything achieved for GW170817 = AT2017gfo for which there were no spectra in the first 12 hr and thereafter only roughly once daily. We describe special HET-specific software written to facilitate the program and attempts to determine the flux limits to undetected sources. We also describe our campaign to follow up OT candidates during the third observational campaign of the LIGO and Virgo Scientific Collaborations. We obtained VIRUS spectroscopy of candidate galaxy hosts for five LVC gravitational-wave events and LRS2 spectra of one candidate for the OT associated with S190901ap. We identified that candidate, ZTF19abvionh = AT2019pip, as a possible Wolf–Rayet star in an otherwise unrecognized nearby dwarf galaxy.

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  4. Abstract

    We present new maps of the Milky Way disk showing the distribution of metallicity ([Fe/H]),α-element abundances ([Mg/Fe]), and stellar age, using a sample of 66,496 red giant stars from the final data release (DR17) of the Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment survey. We measure radial and vertical gradients, quantify the distribution functions for age and metallicity, and explore chemical clock relations across the Milky Way for the low-αdisk, high-αdisk, and total population independently. The low-αdisk exhibits a negative radial metallicity gradient of −0.06 ± 0.001 dex kpc−1, which flattens with distance from the midplane. The high-αdisk shows a flat radial gradient in metallicity and age across nearly all locations of the disk. The age and metallicity distribution functions shift from negatively skewed in the inner Galaxy to positively skewed at large radius. Significant bimodality in the [Mg/Fe]–[Fe/H] plane and in the [Mg/Fe]–age relation persist across the entire disk. The age estimates have typical uncertainties of ∼0.15 in log(age) and may be subject to additional systematic errors, which impose limitations on conclusions drawn from this sample. Nevertheless, these results act as critical constraints on galactic evolution models, constraining which physical processes played a dominant role in the formation of the Milky Way disk. We discuss how radial migration predicts many of the observed trends near the solar neighborhood and in the outer disk, but an additional more dramatic evolution history, such as the multi-infall model or a merger event, is needed to explain the chemical and age bimodality elsewhere in the Galaxy.

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  5. Abstract Individual chemical abundances for 14 elements (C, O, Na, Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, and Ni) are derived for a sample of M dwarfs using high-resolution, near-infrared H -band spectra from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey-IV/Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) survey. The quantitative analysis included synthetic spectra computed with 1D LTE plane-parallel MARCS models using the APOGEE Data Release 17 line list to determine chemical abundances. The sample consists of 11 M dwarfs in binary systems with warmer FGK dwarf primaries and 10 measured interferometric angular diameters. To minimize atomic diffusion effects, [X/Fe] ratios are used to compare M dwarfs in binary systems and literature results for their warmer primary stars, indicating good agreement (<0.08 dex) for all studied elements. The mean abundance difference in primaries minus this work’s M dwarfs is −0.05 ± 0.03 dex. It indicates that M dwarfs in binary systems are a reliable way to calibrate empirical relationships. A comparison with abundance, effective temperature, and surface gravity results from the APOGEE Stellar Parameter and Chemical Abundances Pipeline (ASPCAP) Data Release 16 finds a systematic offset of [M/H], T eff , log g = +0.21 dex, −50 K, and 0.30 dex, respectively, although ASPCAP [X/Fe] ratios are generally consistent with this study. The metallicities of the M dwarfs cover the range of [Fe/H] = −0.9 to +0.4 and are used to investigate Galactic chemical evolution via trends of [X/Fe] as a function of [Fe/H]. The behavior of the various elemental abundances [X/Fe] versus [Fe/H] agrees well with the corresponding trends derived from warmer FGK dwarfs, demonstrating that the APOGEE spectra can be used to examine Galactic chemical evolution using large samples of selected M dwarfs. 
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  6. Abstract We apply a novel statistical analysis to measurements of 16 elemental abundances in 34,410 Milky Way disk stars from the final data release (DR17) of APOGEE-2. Building on recent work, we fit median abundance ratio trends [X/Mg] versus [Mg/H] with a 2-process model, which decomposes abundance patterns into a “prompt” component tracing core-collapse supernovae and a “delayed” component tracing Type Ia supernovae. For each sample star, we fit the amplitudes of these two components, then compute the residuals Δ[X/H] from this two-parameter fit. The rms residuals range from ∼0.01–0.03 dex for the most precisely measured APOGEE abundances to ∼0.1 dex for Na, V, and Ce. The correlations of residuals reveal a complex underlying structure, including a correlated element group comprised of Ca, Na, Al, K, Cr, and Ce and a separate group comprised of Ni, V, Mn, and Co. Selecting stars poorly fit by the 2-process model reveals a rich variety of physical outliers and sometimes subtle measurement errors. Residual abundances allow for the comparison of populations controlled for differences in metallicity and [ α /Fe]. Relative to the main disk ( R = 3–13 kpc), we find nearly identical abundance patterns in the outer disk ( R = 15–17 kpc), 0.05–0.2 dex depressions of multiple elements in LMC and Gaia Sausage/Enceladus stars, and wild deviations (0.4–1 dex) of multiple elements in ω Cen. The residual abundance analysis opens new opportunities for discovering chemically distinctive stars and stellar populations, for empirically constraining nucleosynthetic yields, and for testing chemical evolution models that include stochasticity in the production and redistribution of elements. 
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    Abstract The S2 stream is a kinematically cold stream that is plunging downwards through the Galactic disc. It may be part of a hotter and more diffuse structure called the Helmi stream. We present a multi-instrument chemical analysis of the stars in the metal-poor S2 stream using both high- and low-resolution spectroscopy, complemented with a re-analysis of the archival data to give a total sample of 62 S2 members. Our high-resolution program provides α-elements (C, Mg, Si, Ca and Ti), iron-peak elements (V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Ni), n-capture process elements (Sr, Ba) and other elements such as Li, Na, Al, and Sc for a subsample of S2 objects. We report coherent abundance patterns over a large metallicity spread (∼1 dex) confirming that the S2 stream was produced by a disrupted dwarf galaxy. The combination of S2’s α-elements displays a mildly decreasing trend with increasing metallicity which can be tentatively interpreted as a “knee” at [Fe/H]<−2. At the low metallicity end, the n-capture elements in S2 may be dominated by r-process production however several stars are Ba-enhanced, but unusually poor in Sr. Moreover, some of the low-[Fe/H] stars appear to be carbon-enhanced. We interpret the observed abundance patterns with the help of chemical evolution models that demonstrate the need for modest star-formation efficiency and low wind efficiency confirming that the progenitor of S2 was a primitive dwarf galaxy. 
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