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Phase-Space Distributions of Chemical Abundances in Milky Way-type Galaxy Halos

Font, AS, Johnston, KV, Bullock, JS and Robertson, BE (2006) Phase-Space Distributions of Chemical Abundances in Milky Way-type Galaxy Halos. The Astrophysical Journal, 646 (2). ISSN 1538-4357

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[Abridged] Motivated by upcoming data from astrometric and spectroscopic surveys of the Galaxy, we explore the chemical abundance properties and phase-space distributions in hierarchically-formed stellar halo simulations set in a LambdaCDM Universe. Our sample of Milky-Way type stellar halo simulations result in average metallicities that range from [Fe/H] = -1.3 to -0.9, with the most metal poor halos resulting from accretion histories that lack destructive mergers with massive (metal rich) satellites. Our stellar halo metallicities increase with stellar halo mass. The slope of the [Fe/H]-stellar mass trend mimics that of the satellite galaxies that were destroyed to build the halos, implying that the relation propagates hierarchically. All simulated halos contain a significant fraction of old stellar populations accreted more than 10 Gyr ago and in a few cases, some intermediate age populations exist. In contrast with the Milky Way, many of our simulated stellar halos contain old stellar populations which are metal rich, originating in the early accretion of massive satellites. We suggest that the (metal rich) stellar halo of M31 falls into this category, while the more metal poor halo of the Milky Way is lacking in early massive accretion events. Interestingly, our hierarchically-formed stellar halos often have non-negligible metallicity gradients in both [Fe/H] and [alpha/Fe]. These gradients extend a few tens of kpc, and can be as large as 0.5 dex in [Fe/H] and 0.2 dex in [alpha/Fe]. Finally, we find that chemical abundances can act as a rough substitute for time of accretion of satellite galaxies. We propose a criterion for identifying tidal streams spatially by selecting stars with [alpha/Fe] ratios below solar.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences, 0202 Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics, 0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2020 09:40
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 09:58
DOI or ID number: 10.1086/505131
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12717
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