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Reading the CARDs: The Imprint of Accretion History in the Chemical Abundances of the Milky Way's Stellar Halo

Cunningham, Emily C. and Sanderson, Robyn E. and Johnston, Kathryn V. and Panithanpaisal, Nondh and Ness, Melissa K. and Wetzel, Andrew and Loebman, Sarah R. and Escala, Ivanna and Horta, Danny and Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André (2022) Reading the CARDs: The Imprint of Accretion History in the Chemical Abundances of the Milky Way's Stellar Halo. Astrophysical Journal, 934 (2). Art. No. 172. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/ac78ea.

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In the era of large-scale spectroscopic surveys in the Local Group, we can explore using chemical abundances of halo stars to study the star formation and chemical enrichment histories of the dwarf galaxy progenitors of the Milky Way (MW) and M31 stellar halos. In this paper, we investigate using the chemical abundance ratio distributions (CARDs) of seven stellar halos from the Latte suite of FIRE-2 simulations. We attempt to infer galaxies’ assembly histories by modeling the CARDs of the stellar halos of the Latte galaxies as a linear combination of template CARDs from disrupted dwarfs, with different stellar masses M_⋆ and quenching times t₁₀₀. We present a method for constructing these templates using present-day dwarf galaxies. For four of the seven Latte halos studied in this work, we recover the mass spectrum of accreted dwarfs to a precision of t₁₀₀, we find the residuals of 20%–30% for five of the seven simulations. We discuss the failure modes of this method, which arise from the diversity of star formation and chemical enrichment histories that dwarf galaxies can take. These failure cases can be robustly identified by the high model residuals. Although the CARDs modeling method does not successfully infer the assembly histories in these cases, the CARDs of these disrupted dwarfs contain signatures of their unusual formation histories. Our results are promising for using CARDs to learn more about the histories of the progenitors of the MW and M31 stellar halos.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Cunningham, Emily C.0000-0002-6993-0826
Sanderson, Robyn E.0000-0003-3939-3297
Johnston, Kathryn V.0000-0001-6244-6727
Panithanpaisal, Nondh0000-0001-5214-8822
Ness, Melissa K.0000-0001-5082-6693
Wetzel, Andrew0000-0003-0603-8942
Loebman, Sarah R.0000-0003-3217-5967
Escala, Ivanna0000-0002-9933-9551
Horta, Danny0000-0003-1856-2151
Faucher-Giguère, Claude-André0000-0002-4900-6628
Additional Information:© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 October 6; revised 2022 May 15; accepted 2022 June 13; published 2022 August 4. E.C.C. is supported by a Flatiron Research Fellowship at the Flatiron Institute. The Flatiron Institute is supported by the Simons Foundation. The data used in this work were, in part, hosted on facilities supported by the Scientific Computing Core at the Flatiron Institute, a division of the Simons Foundation. E.C.C. would like to thank Duane Lee, Alis Deason, Erin Kado-Fong, Ted Mackereth, and the members of the Center for Computational Astrophysics Dynamics Group and Astronomical Data Group for useful scientific discussions. R.E.S. and N.P. acknowledge support from NASA grant 19-ATP19-0068. R.E.S. further acknowledges support from NSF grant AST-2009828 and grant HST-AR-15809 from the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555. K.V.J.'s contributions were supported by NSF grant AST-1715582. A.W. received support from the following: NSF grants CAREER 2045928 and 2107772; NASA Astrophysics Theory Program grants 80NSSC18K1097 and 80NSSC20K0513; Hubble Space Telescope (HST) grants GO-14734, AR-15057, AR-15809, GO-15902 from STScI; a Scialog Award from the Heising-Simons Foundation; and a Hellman Fellowship. I.E. is supported by a Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship through the Carnegie Observatories. C.-A.F.-G. was supported by NSF through grants AST-1715216, AST-2108230, and CAREER award AST-1652522; by NASA through grant 17-ATP17-0067; by STScI through grant HST-AR-16124.001-A; and by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement through a Cottrell Scholar Award. We ran simulations using XSEDE, supported by NSF grant ACI-1548562; Blue Waters, supported by the NSF; Pleiades, via the NASA High-End Computing program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Center.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Flatiron InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Heising-Simons FoundationScialog Award
Carnegie ObservatoriesUNSPECIFIED
Princeton UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Milky Way stellar halo; Chemical abundances; Galaxy chemical evolution
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Milky Way stellar halo (1060); Chemical abundances (224); Galaxy chemical evolution (580)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220805-757926000
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Emily C. Cunningham et al 2022 ApJ 934 172
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:116147
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:09 Aug 2022 17:25
Last Modified:09 Aug 2022 17:25

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