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Title: The metal-poor knee in the Fornax dwarf spheroidal galaxy

We present α-element abundances of Mg, Si, and Ti for a large sample of field stars in two outer fields of the Fornax dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxy, obtained with Very Large Telescope/GIRAFFE (R ∼ 16, 000). Due to the large fraction of metal-poor (MP) stars in our sample, we are able to follow the α-element evolution from [Fe/H] ≈ –2.5 continuously to [Fe/H] ≈ –0.7. For the first time we are able to resolve the turnover from the Type II supernovae (SNe) dominated, α-enhanced plateau down to subsolar [α/Fe] values, due to the onset of SNe Ia, and thus to trace the chemical enrichment efficiency of the galaxy. Our data support the general concept of an α-enhanced plateau at early epochs, followed by a well-defined 'knee' caused by the onset of SNe Ia, and finally a second plateau with sub-solar [α/Fe] values. We find the position of this knee to be at [Fe/H] ≈ –1.9 and therefore significantly more MP than expected from comparison with other dSphs and standard evolutionary models. Surprisingly, this value is rather comparable to the knee in Sculptor, a dSph ∼10 times less luminous than Fornax. Using chemical evolution models, we find that the position ofmore » the knee and the subsequent plateau at the sub-solar level can hardly be explained unless the galaxy experienced several discrete star formation (SF) events with a drastic variation in SF efficiency, while a uniform SF can be ruled out. One possible evolutionary scenario is that Fornax experienced one or several major accretion events from gas-rich systems in the past, so that its current stellar mass is not indicative of the chemical evolution environment at ancient times. If Fornax is the product of several smaller buildings blocks, this may also have implications for the understanding of the formation process of dSphs in general.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7]
  1. Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Landessternwarte, Königstuhl 12, D-69117, Heidelberg (Germany)
  2. Núcleo de Astrofísica Teórica, Universidade Cruzeiro do Sul, R. Galvão Bueno 868, Liberdade, 01506-000, São Paulo, SP (Brazil)
  3. Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Mönchhofstr. 12-14, D-69120, Heidelberg (Germany)
  4. McWilliams Center for Cosmology, Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (United States)
  5. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden Street, MS-15, Cambridge, MA 02138 (United States)
  6. Institute for Astronomy, University of Edinburgh, Royal Observatory, Blackford Hill, Edinburgh EH9 3HJ (United Kingdom)
  7. Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University, Madingley Rd, Cambridge CB3 OHA (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22357111
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 785; 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; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; DWARF STARS; EFFICIENCY; ELEMENT ABUNDANCE; ENRICHMENT; EVOLUTION; GALAXIES; LUMINOSITY; MAGNESIUM; MASS; METALS; SILICON; TELESCOPES; TITANIUM; TYPE II SUPERNOVAE