Volume 632, December 2019
|Number of page(s)||23|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||21 November 2019|
The Milky Way has no in-situ halo other than the heated thick disc
Composition of the stellar halo and age-dating the last significant merger with Gaia DR2 and APOGEE
GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Place Jules Janssen, 92190 Meudon, France
2 Sorbonne Université, CNRS UMR 7095, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, 98bis bd Arago, 75014 Paris, France
3 Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, 85741 Garching, Germany
4 Institute of Astronomy, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pyatnitskaya st., 48, 119017 Moscow, Russia
5 School of Physics, Korea Institute for Advanced Study, 85 Hoegiro, Dongdaemun-gu, Seoul 02455, Republic of Korea
Accepted: 9 September 2019
Previous studies based on the analysis of Gaia DR2 data have revealed that accreted stars, possibly originating from a single progenitor satellite, are a significant component of the halo of our Galaxy, potentially constituting most of the halo stars at [Fe/H] < −1 within a few kpc from the Sun and beyond. In this paper, we couple astrometric data from Gaia DR2 with elemental abundances from APOGEE DR14 to characterise the kinematics and chemistry of in-situ and accreted populations up to [Fe/H] ∼ −2. Accreted stars appear to significantly impact the galactic chemo–kinematic relations, not only at [Fe/H] < −1, but also at metallicities typical of the thick and metal-poor thin discs. They constitute about 60% of all stars at [Fe/H] < −1, the remaining 40% being made of (metal-weak) thick-disc stars. We find that the stellar kinematic fossil record shows the imprint left by this accretion event, which heated the old galactic disc. We are able to age-date this kinematic imprint, showing that the accretion occurred between nine and 11 Gyr ago, and that it led to the last significant heating of the galactic disc. An important fraction of stars with abundances typical of the (metal-rich) thick disc, and heated by this interaction, is now found in the galactic halo. Indeed, about half of the kinematically defined halo at few kpc from the Sun is composed of metal-rich thick-disc stars. Moreover, we suggest that this metal-rich thick-disc component dominates the stellar halo of the inner Galaxy. The new picture that emerges from this study is one where the standard, non-rotating in-situ halo population, the collapsed halo, seems to be more elusive than ever.
Key words: Galaxy: abundances / Galaxy: stellar content / Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics / Galaxy: structure / Galaxy: evolution
© P. Di Matteo et al. 2019
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