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The Age Distribution of Stars in the Milky Way Bulge

Sit, Tawny and Ness, M. K. (2020) The Age Distribution of Stars in the Milky Way Bulge. Astrophysical Journal, 900 (1). Art. No. 4. ISSN 1538-4357. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ab9ff6.

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The age and chemical characteristics of the Galactic bulge link to the formation and evolutionary history of the Galaxy. Data-driven methods and large surveys enable stellar ages and precision chemical abundances to be determined for vast regions of the Milky Way, including the bulge. Here, we use the data-driven approach of The Cannon, to infer the ages and abundances for 125,367 stars in the Milky Way, using spectra from Apache Point Observatory Galaxy Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) DR14. We examine the ages and metallicities of 1654 bulge stars within R_(GAL) < 3.5 kpc. We focus on fields with b < 12°, and out to longitudes of l < 15°. We see that stars in the bulge are about twice as old (τ = 8 Gyr), on average, compared to those in the solar neighborhood (τ = 4 Gyr), with a larger dispersion in [Fe/H] (≈0.38 compared to 0.23 dex). This age gradient comes primarily from the low-α stars. Looking along the Galactic plane, the very central field in the bulge shows by far the largest dispersion in [Fe/H] (σ_([Fe/H]) ≈ 0.4 dex) and line-of-sight velocity (σ_(vr) ≈ 90 km s⁻¹), and simultaneously the smallest dispersion in age. Moving out in longitude, the stars become kinematically colder and less dispersed in [Fe/H], but show a much broader range of ages. We see a signature of the X-shape within the bulge at a latitude of b = 8°, but not at b = 12°. Future APOGEE and other survey data, with larger sampling, affords the opportunity to extend our approach and study in more detail, to place stronger constraints on models of the Milky Way.

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Additional Information:© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 February 20; revised 2020 May 29; accepted 2020 June 15; published 2020 August 27. This research was funded by a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship from the Student-Faculty Programs office at Caltech. M.N. is in part supported by a Sloan Foundation Fellowship. We thank the anonymous referee for their constructive feedback which improved the paper and Marina Rejkuba for helpful comments.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Galactic bulge ; Milky Way Galaxy ; Stellar ages ; Stellar properties ; Stellar abundances
Issue or Number:1
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Galactic bulge (2041); Milky Way Galaxy (1054); Stellar ages (1581); Stellar properties (1624); Stellar abundances (1577)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200824-125322264
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Official Citation:Tawny Sit and M. K. Ness 2020 ApJ 900 4
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105077
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Aug 2020 20:03
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:39

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