Volume 578, June 2015
|Number of page(s)||29|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||10 June 2015|
Reconstructing the star formation history of the Milky Way disc(s) from chemical abundances
1 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Université Paris Diderot, 5 place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
2 Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
3 Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, UMR 7095, CNRS, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 98bis Bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
4 LERMA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, 61 Av. de l’Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
Received: 26 May 2014
Accepted: 5 November 2014
We develop a chemical evolution model to study the star formation history of the Milky Way. Our model assumes that the Milky Way has formed from a closed-box-like system in the inner regions, while the outer parts of the disc have experienced some accretion. Unlike the usual procedure, we do not fix the star formation prescription (e.g. Kennicutt law) to reproduce the chemical abundance trends. Instead, we fit the abundance trends with age to recover the star formation history of the Galaxy. Our method enables us to recover the star formation history of the Milky Way in the first Gyrs with unprecedented accuracy in the inner (R < 7−8 kpc) and outer (R > 9−10 kpc) discs, as sampled in the solar vicinity. We show that half the stellar mass formed during the thick-disc phase in the inner galaxy during the first 4−5 Gyr. This phase was followed by a significant dip in star formation activity (at 8−9 Gyr) and a period of roughly constant lower-level star formation for the remaining 8 Gyr. The thick-disc phase has produced as many metals in 4 Gyr as the thin-disc phase in the remaining 8 Gyr. Our results suggest that a closed-box model is able to fit all the available constraints in the inner disc. A closed-box system is qualitatively equivalent to a regime where the accretion rate maintains a high gas fraction in the inner disc at high redshift. In these conditions the SFR is mainly governed by the high turbulence of the interstellar medium. By z ~ 1 it is possible that most of the accretion takes place in the outer disc, while the star formation activity in the inner disc is mostly sustained by the gas that is not consumed during the thick-disc phase and the continuous ejecta from earlier generations of stars. The outer disc follows a star formation history very similar to that of the inner disc, although initiated at z ~ 2, about 2 Gyr before the onset of the thin-disc formation in the inner disc.
Key words: Galaxy: disk / Galaxy: evolution / Galaxy: formation / Galaxy: structure / solar neighborhood
© ESO, 2015
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