ITC Special Colloquium - Vasily Belokurov (Cambridge)


Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 11:00am to 12:00pm

"From dawn till disk: Milky Way's turbulent youth revealed by the APOGEE+Gaia data”



We use accurate estimates of aluminium abundance provided as part of the APOGEE Data Release 17 and Gaia Early Data Release 3 astrometry to select a highly pure sample of stars with metallicity $-1.5\lesssim {\rm [Fe/H]}\lesssim 0.5$ born in-situ in the Milky Way proper. We show that the low-metallicity ([Fe/H]$\lesssim -1.3$) in-situ component that we dub Aurora is kinematically hot with an approximately isotropic velocity ellipsoid and a modest net rotation. Aurora stars exhibit large scatter in metallicity and in a number of element abundance ratios. The median tangential velocity of the in-situ stars increases sharply with increasing metallicity between [Fe/H]$=-1.3$ and $-0.9$, the transition that we call the spin-up. The observed and theoretically expected age-metallicity correlations imply that this increase reflects a rapid formation of the Milky Way disk over $\approx 1-2$ Gyrs. The transformation of the stellar kinematics as a function of [Fe/H] is accompanied by a qualitative change in chemical abundances: the scatter drops sharply once the Galaxy builds up a disk during later epochs corresponding to [Fe/H]$>-0.9$. Results of galaxy formation models presented in this and other recent studies strongly indicate that the trends observed in the Milky Way reflect generic processes during the early evolution of progenitors of MW-sized galaxies: a period of chaotic pre-disk evolution, when gas is accreted along cold narrow filaments and when stars are born in irregular configurations, and subsequent rapid disk formation. The latter signals formation of a stable hot gaseous halo around the MW progenitor, which changes the mode of gas accretion and allows development of coherently rotating disk.

See also: Colloquium, 2021-22