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Gaia Reveals a Metal-rich, in situ Component of the Local Stellar Halo

Bonaca, Ana and Conroy, Charlie and Wetzel, Andrew and Hopkins, Philip F. and Kereš, Dušan (2017) Gaia Reveals a Metal-rich, in situ Component of the Local Stellar Halo. Astrophysical Journal, 845 (2). Art. No. 101. ISSN 1538-4357.

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We use the first Gaia data release, combined with the RAVE and APOGEE spectroscopic surveys, to investigate the origin of halo stars within ≾3 kpc from the Sun. We identify halo stars kinematically as moving at a relative speed of at least 220 km s^(−1) with respect to the local standard of rest. These stars are generally less metal-rich than the disk, but surprisingly, half of our halo sample is comprised of stars with [Fe/H] > -1. The orbital directions of these metal-rich halo stars are preferentially aligned with the disk rotation, in sharp contrast with the intrinsically isotropic orbital distribution of the metal-poor halo stars. We find similar properties in the Latte cosmological zoom-in simulation of a Milky Way-like galaxy from the FIRE project. In Latte, metal-rich halo stars formed primarily inside of the solar circle, whereas lower-metallicity halo stars preferentially formed at larger distances (extending beyond the virial radius). This suggests that metal-rich halo stars in the solar neighborhood actually formed in situ within the Galactic disk, rather than having been accreted from satellite systems. These stars, currently on halo-like orbits, therefore have likely undergone substantial radial migration/heating.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Bonaca, Ana0000-0002-7846-9787
Conroy, Charlie0000-0002-1590-8551
Wetzel, Andrew0000-0003-0603-8942
Hopkins, Philip F.0000-0003-3729-1684
Kereš, Dušan0000-0002-1666-7067
Additional Information:© 2017 American Astronomical Society. Received 2017 April 17. Accepted 2017 June 29. Published 2017 August 16. We thank the anonymous referee for carefully reviewing this manuscript and providing comments that improved its clarity. It is a pleasure to thank Andy Casey for providing a match of the RAVE-on catalog to TGAS, Yuan-Sen Ting for matching the APOGEE catalog to TGAS, as well as Kim Venn, Rosy Wyse, Warren Brown, and Elena D'Onghia for insightful comments that shaped the progression of this project. This work has made use of the following Python packages: matplotlib (Hunter 2007), numpy (Walt et al. 2011), scipy (Jones et al. 2001), Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013), and gala (Price-Whelan et al. 2017). This paper was written in part at the 2016 NYC Gaia Sprint, hosted by the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Simons Foundation in New York City. A.B. was supported by an Institute for Theory and Computation Fellowship. C.C. acknowledges support from the Packard Foundation. A.W. was supported by a Caltech-Carnegie Fellowship, in part through the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics at Caltech, and by NASA through grant HST-GO-14734 from STScI. D.K. was supported by NSF grant AST-1412153 and a Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, particularly the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. Funding for RAVE has been provided by: the Australian Astronomical Observatory; the Leibniz-Institut fuer Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), the Australian National University; the Australian Research Council; the French National Research Agency; the German Research Foundation (SPP 1177 and SFB 881); the European Research Council (ERC-StG 240271 Galactica); the Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica at Padova; Johns Hopkins University; the National Science Foundation of the USA (AST-0908326); the W.M. Keck foundation; Macquarie University; the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy; the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; the Slovenian Research Agency; the Swiss National Science Foundation; the Science & Technology Facilities Council of the UK; Opticon; Strasbourg Observatory; and the Universities of Groningen, Heidelberg, and Sydney. The RAVE web site is at Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the participating institutions. SDSS-IV acknowledges support and resources from the Center for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is SDSS-IV is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration, including: the Brazilian Participation Group, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University, the Chilean Participation Group, the French Participation Group, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Johns Hopkins University, the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (IPMU)/University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), National Astronomical Observatories of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, the University of Notre Dame, Observatário Nacional/MCTI, The Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, the United Kingdom Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, University of Arizona, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Oxford, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.
Group:Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics, Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Institute for Theory and ComputationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Caltech-Carnegie FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and PhysicsUNSPECIFIED
Cottrell Scholar of Research CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Gaia Multilateral AgreementUNSPECIFIED
Australian Astronomical ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
Leibniz-Institut fuer Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP)UNSPECIFIED
Australian National UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Australian Research CouncilUNSPECIFIED
Agence Nationale pour la Recherche (ANR)UNSPECIFIED
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)SPP 1177
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)SFB 881
European Research Council (ERC)ERC-StG 240271 Galactica
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF)UNSPECIFIED
Johns Hopkins UniversityUNSPECIFIED
W. M. Keck FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Macquarie UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor de Astronomie (NOVA)UNSPECIFIED
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)UNSPECIFIED
Slovenian Research AgencyUNSPECIFIED
Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)UNSPECIFIED
Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)UNSPECIFIED
Strasbourg ObservatoryUNSPECIFIED
University of GroningenUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Department of Energy (DOE)UNSPECIFIED
University of UtahUNSPECIFIED
University of HeidelbergUNSPECIFIED
University of SydneyUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Galaxy: abundances; Galaxy: formation; Galaxy: halo; Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics; Galaxy: structure; solar neighborhood
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170908-093448095
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Ana Bonaca et al 2017 ApJ 845 101
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81263
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:08 Sep 2017 18:03
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:40

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