The dynamically selected stellar halo of the Galaxy with Gaia and the tilt of the velocity ellipsoid
Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen,
PO Box 800,
Accepted: 5 March 2018
Aims. We study the dynamical properties of halo stars located in the solar neighbourhood. Our goal is to explore how the properties of the halo depend on the selection criteria used to define a sample of halo stars. Once this is understood, we proceed to measure the shape and orientation of the halo’s velocity ellipsoid and we use this information to put constraints on the gravitational potential of the Galaxy.
Methods. We use the recently released Gaia DR1 catalogue cross-matched to the RAVE dataset for our analysis. We develop a dynamical criterion based on the distribution function of stars in various Galactic components, using action integrals to identify halo members, and we compare this to the metallicity and to kinematically selected samples.
Results. With this new method, we find 1156 stars in the solar neighbourhood that are likely members of the stellar halo. Our dynamically selected sample consists mainly of distant giants on elongated orbits. Their metallicity distribution is rather broad, with roughly half of the stars having [M/H] ≥ −1 dex. The use of different selection criteria has an important impact on the characteristics of the velocity distributions obtained. Nonetheless, for our dynamically selected and for the metallicity selected samples, we find the local velocity ellipsoid to be aligned in spherical coordinates in a Galactocentric reference frame. This suggests that the total gravitational potential is rather spherical in the region spanned by the orbits of the halo stars in these samples.
Key words: Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics / Galaxy: structure / Galaxy: halo / solar neighborhood
© ESO 2018