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Title: THE VERTICAL MOTIONS OF MONO-ABUNDANCE SUB-POPULATIONS IN THE MILKY WAY DISK

Abstract

We present the vertical kinematics of stars in the Milky Way's stellar disk inferred from Sloan Digital Sky Survey/Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SDSS/SEGUE) G-dwarf data, deriving the vertical velocity dispersion, {sigma}{sub z}, as a function of vertical height |z| and Galactocentric radius R for a set of 'mono-abundance' sub-populations of stars with very similar elemental abundances [{alpha}/Fe] and [Fe/H]. We find that all mono-abundance components exhibit nearly isothermal kinematics in |z|, and a slow outward decrease of the vertical velocity dispersion: {sigma}{sub z}(z, R | [{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) Almost-Equal-To {sigma}{sub z}([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) Multiplication-Sign exp (- (R - R{sub 0})/7 kpc). The characteristic velocity dispersions of these components vary from {approx}15 km s{sup -1} for chemically young, metal-rich stars with solar [{alpha}/Fe], to {approx}> 50 km s{sup -1} for metal-poor stars that are strongly [{alpha}/Fe]-enhanced, and hence presumably very old. The mean {sigma}{sub z} gradient (d{sigma}{sub z}/dz) away from the mid-plane is only 0.3 {+-} 0.2 km s{sup -1} kpc{sup -1}. This kinematic simplicity of the mono-abundance components mirrors their geometric simplicity; we have recently found their density distribution to be simple exponentials in both the z- and R-directions. We find a continuum of vertical kinetic temperatures ({proportional_to}{sigma}{sup 2}{submore » z}) as a function of ([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]), which contribute to the total stellar surface-mass density approximately as {Sigma}{sub R{sub 0}}({sigma}{sup 2}{sub z}){proportional_to} exp(-{sigma}{sup 2}{sub z}). This and the existence of isothermal mono-abundance populations with intermediate dispersions (30-40 km s{sup -1}) reject the notion of a thin-thick-disk dichotomy. This continuum of disk components, ranging from old, 'hot', and centrally concentrated ones to younger, cooler, and radially extended ones, argues against models where the thicker disk portions arise from massive satellite infall or heating; scenarios where either the oldest disk portion was born hot, or where internal evolution plays a major role, seem the most viable. In addition, the wide range of {sigma}{sub z}([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) combined with a constant {sigma}{sub z}(z) for each abundance bin provides an independent check on the precision of the SEGUE-derived abundances: {delta}{sub [{alpha}/Fe]} Almost-Equal-To 0.07 dex and {delta}{sub [Fe/H]} Almost-Equal-To 0.15 dex. The slow radial decline of the vertical dispersion presumably reflects the decrease in disk surface-mass density. This measurement constitutes a first step toward a purely dynamical estimate of the mass profile of the stellar and gaseous disk in our Galaxy.« less

Authors:
 [1]; ; ;  [2];  [3];  [4]
  1. Institute for Advanced Study, Einstein Drive, Princeton, NJ 08540 (United States)
  2. Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie, Koenigstuhl 17, D-69117 Heidelberg (Germany)
  3. National Optical Astronomy Observatory, Tucson, AZ 85719 (United States)
  4. Department of Physics and Astronomy and JINA (Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics), Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22039095
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 755; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; DENSITY; ELEMENT ABUNDANCE; GALACTIC EVOLUTION; HYDROGEN; IRON; MASS; MILKY WAY; STAR EVOLUTION; STARS

Citation Formats

Bovy, Jo, Rix, Hans-Walter, Hogg, David W., Zhang, Lan, Beers, Timothy C., and Lee, Young Sun, E-mail: bovy@ias.edu. THE VERTICAL MOTIONS OF MONO-ABUNDANCE SUB-POPULATIONS IN THE MILKY WAY DISK. United States: N. p., 2012. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/755/2/115.
Bovy, Jo, Rix, Hans-Walter, Hogg, David W., Zhang, Lan, Beers, Timothy C., & Lee, Young Sun, E-mail: bovy@ias.edu. THE VERTICAL MOTIONS OF MONO-ABUNDANCE SUB-POPULATIONS IN THE MILKY WAY DISK. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/755/2/115.
Bovy, Jo, Rix, Hans-Walter, Hogg, David W., Zhang, Lan, Beers, Timothy C., and Lee, Young Sun, E-mail: bovy@ias.edu. Mon . "THE VERTICAL MOTIONS OF MONO-ABUNDANCE SUB-POPULATIONS IN THE MILKY WAY DISK". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/755/2/115.
@article{osti_22039095,
title = {THE VERTICAL MOTIONS OF MONO-ABUNDANCE SUB-POPULATIONS IN THE MILKY WAY DISK},
author = {Bovy, Jo and Rix, Hans-Walter and Hogg, David W. and Zhang, Lan and Beers, Timothy C. and Lee, Young Sun, E-mail: bovy@ias.edu},
abstractNote = {We present the vertical kinematics of stars in the Milky Way's stellar disk inferred from Sloan Digital Sky Survey/Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SDSS/SEGUE) G-dwarf data, deriving the vertical velocity dispersion, {sigma}{sub z}, as a function of vertical height |z| and Galactocentric radius R for a set of 'mono-abundance' sub-populations of stars with very similar elemental abundances [{alpha}/Fe] and [Fe/H]. We find that all mono-abundance components exhibit nearly isothermal kinematics in |z|, and a slow outward decrease of the vertical velocity dispersion: {sigma}{sub z}(z, R | [{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) Almost-Equal-To {sigma}{sub z}([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) Multiplication-Sign exp (- (R - R{sub 0})/7 kpc). The characteristic velocity dispersions of these components vary from {approx}15 km s{sup -1} for chemically young, metal-rich stars with solar [{alpha}/Fe], to {approx}> 50 km s{sup -1} for metal-poor stars that are strongly [{alpha}/Fe]-enhanced, and hence presumably very old. The mean {sigma}{sub z} gradient (d{sigma}{sub z}/dz) away from the mid-plane is only 0.3 {+-} 0.2 km s{sup -1} kpc{sup -1}. This kinematic simplicity of the mono-abundance components mirrors their geometric simplicity; we have recently found their density distribution to be simple exponentials in both the z- and R-directions. We find a continuum of vertical kinetic temperatures ({proportional_to}{sigma}{sup 2}{sub z}) as a function of ([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]), which contribute to the total stellar surface-mass density approximately as {Sigma}{sub R{sub 0}}({sigma}{sup 2}{sub z}){proportional_to} exp(-{sigma}{sup 2}{sub z}). This and the existence of isothermal mono-abundance populations with intermediate dispersions (30-40 km s{sup -1}) reject the notion of a thin-thick-disk dichotomy. This continuum of disk components, ranging from old, 'hot', and centrally concentrated ones to younger, cooler, and radially extended ones, argues against models where the thicker disk portions arise from massive satellite infall or heating; scenarios where either the oldest disk portion was born hot, or where internal evolution plays a major role, seem the most viable. In addition, the wide range of {sigma}{sub z}([{alpha}/Fe], [Fe/H]) combined with a constant {sigma}{sub z}(z) for each abundance bin provides an independent check on the precision of the SEGUE-derived abundances: {delta}{sub [{alpha}/Fe]} Almost-Equal-To 0.07 dex and {delta}{sub [Fe/H]} Almost-Equal-To 0.15 dex. The slow radial decline of the vertical dispersion presumably reflects the decrease in disk surface-mass density. This measurement constitutes a first step toward a purely dynamical estimate of the mass profile of the stellar and gaseous disk in our Galaxy.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/755/2/115},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 755,
place = {United States},
year = {Mon Aug 20 00:00:00 EDT 2012},
month = {Mon Aug 20 00:00:00 EDT 2012}
}
  • The spatial, kinematic, and elemental-abundance structure of the Milky Way's stellar disk is complex, and has been difficult to dissect with local spectroscopic or global photometric data. Here, we develop and apply a rigorous density modeling approach for Galactic spectroscopic surveys that enables investigation of the global spatial structure of stellar sub-populations in narrow bins of [{alpha}/Fe] and [Fe/H], using 23,767 G-type dwarfs from SDSS/SEGUE, which effectively sample 5 kpc < R{sub GC} < 12 kpc and 0.3 kpc {approx}< |Z| {approx}< 3 kpc. We fit models for the number density of each such ([{alpha}/Fe] and [Fe/H]) mono-abundance component, properlymore » accounting for the complex spectroscopic SEGUE sampling of the underlying stellar population, as well as for the metallicity and color distributions of the samples. We find that each mono-abundance sub-population has a simple spatial structure that can be described by a single exponential in both the vertical and radial directions, with continuously increasing scale heights ( Almost-Equal-To 200 pc to 1 kpc) and decreasing scale lengths (>4.5 kpc to 2 kpc) for increasingly older sub-populations, as indicated by their lower metallicities and [{alpha}/Fe] enhancements. That the abundance-selected sub-components with the largest scale heights have the shortest scale lengths is in sharp contrast with purely geometric 'thick-thin disk' decompositions. To the extent that [{alpha}/Fe] is an adequate proxy for age, our results directly show that older disk sub-populations are more centrally concentrated, which implies inside-out formation of galactic disks. The fact that the largest scale-height sub-components are most centrally concentrated in the Milky Way is an almost inevitable consequence of explaining the vertical structure of the disk through internal evolution. Whether the simple spatial structure of the mono-abundance sub-components and the striking correlations between age, scale length, and scale height can be plausibly explained by satellite accretion or other external heating remains to be seen.« less
  • Using G dwarfs from the Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE) survey, we have determined the vertical metallicity gradient in the Milky Way's disk and examined how this gradient varies for different [α/Fe] subsamples. Our sample contains over 40,000 stars with low-resolution spectroscopy over 144 lines of sight. It also covers a significant disk volume, between ∼0.3 and 1.6 kpc from the Galactic plane, and allows us to examine the disk in situ, whereas previous analyses were more limited in scope. Furthermore, this work does not presuppose a disk structure, whether composed of a single complex population ormore » distinct thin and thick disk components. We employ the SEGUE Stellar Parameter Pipeline to obtain estimates of stellar parameters, [Fe/H], and [α/Fe] and extract multiple volume-complete subsamples of approximately 1000 stars each. Based on SEGUE's target-selection algorithm, we adjust each subsample to determine an unbiased picture of disk chemistry; consequently, each individual star represents the properties of many. The metallicity gradient is –0.243{sub −0.053}{sup +0.039} dex kpc{sup –1} for the entire sample, which we compare to various literature results. This gradient stems from the different [α/Fe] populations inhabiting different ranges of height above the Galactic plane. Each [α/Fe] subsample shows little change in median [Fe/H] with height. If we associate [α/Fe] with age, the negligible gradients of our [α/Fe] subsamples suggest that stars formed in different epochs exhibit comparable vertical structure, implying similar star formation processes and evolution.« less
  • Based on a simple model of the chemical evolution of the Milky Way disk, we investigate the disk oxygen abundance gradient and its time evolution. Two star formation rates (SFRs) are considered, one is the classical Kennicutt-Schmidt law ({psi} = 0.25{sigma}{sup 1.4} {sub gas}, hereafter C-KS law), another is the modified Kennicutt law ({upsilon} = {alpha}{sigma}{sup 1.4} {sub gas}(V/r), hereafter M-KS law). In both cases, the model can produce some amount of abundance gradient, and the gradient is steeper in the early epoch of disk evolution. However, we find that when C-KS law is adopted, the classical chemical evolution model,more » which assumes a radially dependent infall timescale, cannot produce a sufficiently steep present-day abundance gradient. This problem disappears if we introduce a disk formation timescale, which means that at early times, infalling gas cools down onto the inner disk only, while the outer disk forms later. This kind of model, however, will predict a very steep gradient in the past. When the M-KS law is adopted, the model can properly predict both the current abundance gradient and its time evolution, matching recent observations from planetary nebulae and open clusters along the Milky Way disk. Our best model also predicts that outer disk (artificially defined as the disk with R{sub g} {>=} 8 kpc) has a steeper gradient than the inner disk. The observed outer disk gradients from Cepheids, open clusters, and young stars show quite controversial results. There are also some hints from Cepheids that the outer disk abundance gradient may have a bimodal distribution. More data is needed in order to clarify the outer disk gradient problem. Our model calculations show that for an individual Milky Way-type galaxy, a better description of the local star formation is the M-KS law.« less
  • We use the number density distributions of K and M dwarf stars with vertical height from the Galactic disk, determined using observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, to probe the structure of the Milky Way disk across the survey’s footprint. Using photometric parallax as a distance estimator we analyze a sample of several million disk stars in matching footprints above and below the Galactic plane, and we determine the location and extent of vertical asymmetries in the number counts in a variety of thin- and thick-disk subsamples in regions of some 200 square degrees within 2 kpc in verticalmore » distance from the Galactic disk. These disk asymmetries present wave-like features as previously observed on other scales and at other distances from the Sun. We additionally explore the scale height of the disk and the implied offset of the Sun from the Galactic plane at different locations, noting that the scale height of the disk can differ significantly when measured using stars only above or only below the plane. Moreover, we compare the shape of the number density distribution in the north for different latitude ranges with a fixed range in longitude and find the shape to be sensitive to the selected latitude window. We explain why this may be indicative of a change in stellar populations in the latitude regions compared, possibly allowing access to the systematic metallicity difference between thin- and thick-disk populations through photometry.« less
  • Here, we use the number density distributions of K and M dwarf stars with vertical height from the Galactic disk, determined using observations from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), to probe the structure of the Milky Way disk across the survey's footprint. Using photometric parallax as a distance estimator we analyze a sample of several million disk stars in matching footprints above and below the Galactic plane, and we determine the location and extent of vertical asymmetries in the number counts in a variety of thin and thick disk subsamples in regions of some 200 square degrees within 2more » kpc in vertical distance from the Galactic disk. These disk asymmetries present wave-like features as previously observed on other scales and distances from the Sun. We additionally explore the scale height of the disk and the implied offset of the Sun from the Galactic plane at different locations, noting that the scale height of the disk can differ significantly when measured using stars only above or only below the plane. Moreover, we compare the shape of the number density distribution in the north for different latitude ranges with a fixed range in longitude and find the shape to be sensitive to the selected latitude window. We explain why this may be indicative of a change in stellar populations in the compared latitude regions, possibly allowing access to the systematic metallicity difference between thin and thick disk populations through photometry.« less
    Cited by 2