Posts Tagged galactic disk

Recent Postings from galactic disk

Chemical probes of turbulence in the diffuse medium: the TDR model

Context. Tens of light hydrides and small molecules have now been detected over several hundreds sight lines sampling the diffuse interstellar medium (ISM) in both the Solar neighbourhood and the inner Galactic disk. They provide unprecedented statistics on the first steps of chemistry in the diffuse gas. Aims. These new data confirm the limitations of the traditional chemical pathways driven by the UV photons and the cosmic rays (CR) and the need for additional energy sources, such as turbulent dissipation, to open highly endoenergetic formation routes. The goal of the present paper is to further investigate the link between specific species and the properties of the turbulent cascade in particular its space-time intermittency. Methods. We have analysed ten different atomic and molecular species in the framework of the updated model of turbulent dissipation regions (TDR). We study the influence on the abundances of these species of parameters specific to chemistry (density, UV field, and CR ionisation rate) and those linked to turbulence (the average turbulent dissipation rate, the dissipation timescale, and the ion neutral velocity drift in the regions of dissipation). Results. The most sensitive tracers of turbulent dissipation are the abundances of CH+ and SH+, and the column densities of the J = 3, 4, 5 rotational levels of H2 . The abundances of CO, HCO+, and the intensity of the 158 $\mu$m [CII] emission line are significantly enhanced by turbulent dissipation. The vast diversity of chemical pathways allows the independent determinations of free parameters never estimated before: an upper limit to the average turbulent dissipation rate, $\overline{\varepsilon}$ < 10$^{-23}$ erg cm$^{-3}$ s$^{-1}$ for $n_H$=20 cm$^{-3}$, from the CH+ abundance; an upper limit to the ion-neutral velocity drift, $u_{in}$ < 3.5 km s$^{-1}$, from the SH+ to CH+ abundance ratio; and a range of dissipation timescales, 100 < $\tau_V$ < 1000 yr, from the CO to HCO+ abundance ratio. For the first time, we reproduce the large abundances of CO observed on diffuse lines of sight, and we show that CO may be abundant even in regions with UV-shieldings as low as $5 \times 10^{-3}$ mag. The best range of parameters also reproduces the abundance ratios of OH, C2H, and H2O to HCO+ and are consistent with the known properties of the turbulent cascade in the Galactic diffuse ISM. Conclusions. Our results disclose an unexpected link between the dissipation of turbulence and the emergence of molecular richness in the diffuse ISM. Some species, such as CH+ or SH+, turn out to be unique tracers of the energy trail in the ISM. In spite of some degeneracy, the properties of the turbulent cascade, down to dissipation, can be captured through specific molecular abundances.

Analysis of the spiral structure in a simulated galaxy

We analyze the spiral structure that results in a numerical simulation of a galactic disk with stellar and gaseous components evolving in a potential that includes an axisymmetric halo and bulge. We perform a second simulation without the gas component to observe how it affects the spiral structure in the disk. To quantify this, we use a Fourier analysis and obtain values for the pitch angle and the velocity of the self-excited spiral pattern of the disk. The results show a tighter spiral in the simulation with gaseous component. The spiral structure is consistent with a superposition of waves, each with a constant pattern velocity in given radial ranges.

Massive stars in the giant molecular cloud G23.3-0.3 and W41

Young massive stars and stellar clusters continuously form in the Galactic disk, generating new HII regions within their natal giant molecular clouds and subsequently enriching the interstellar medium via their winds and supernovae. Massive stars are among the brightest infrared stars in such regions; their identification permits the characterization of the star formation history of the associated cloud as well as constraining the location of stellar aggregates and hence their occurrence as a function of global environment. We present a stellar spectroscopic survey in the direction of the giant molecular cloud G23.3-0.3. This complex is located at a distance of ~ 4-5 kpc, and consists of several HII regions and supernova remnants. We discovered 11 OfK+ stars, one candidate Luminous Blue Variable, several OB stars, and candidate red supergiants. Stars with K-band extinction from ~1.3 – 1.9 mag appear to be associated with the GMC G23.3-0.3; O and B-types satisfying this criterion have spectro-photometric distances consistent with that of the giant molecular cloud. Combining near-IR spectroscopic and photometric data allowed us to characterize the multiple sites of star formation within it. The O-type stars have masses from 25 – 45 Msun, and ages of 5-8 Myr. Two new red supergiants were detected with interstellar extinction typical of the cloud; along with the two RSGs within the cluster GLIMPSE9, they trace an older burst with an age of 20–30 Myr. Massive stars were also detected in the core of three supernova remnants – W41, G22.7-0.2, and G22.7583-0.4917. A large population of massive stars appears associated with the GMC G23.3-0.3, with the properties inferred for them indicative of an extended history of stars formation.

Using Red Clump Stars to Decompose the Galactic Magnetic Field with Distance

A new method for measuring the large-scale structure of the Galactic magnetic field is presented. The Galactic magnetic field has been probed through the Galactic disk with near-infrared starlight polarimetry, however the distance to each background star is unknown. Using red clump stars as near-infrared standard candles, this work presents the first attempt to decompose the line of sight structure of the sky-projected Galactic magnetic field. Two example lines-of-sight are decomposed: toward a field with many red clump stars and toward a field with few red clump stars. A continuous estimate of magnetic field orientation over several kiloparsecs of distance is possible in the field with many red clump stars, while only discrete estimates are possible in the sparse example. toward the Outer Galaxy, there is a continuous field orientation with distance that shows evidence of perturbation by the Galactic warp. toward the Inner Galaxy, evidence for a large-scale change in the magnetic field geometry is consistent with models of magnetic field reversals, independently derived from Faraday rotation studies. A photo-polarimetric method for identifying candidate intrinsically polarized stars is also presented. The future application of this method to large regions of the sky will begin the process of mapping the Galactic magnetic field in a way never before possible.

Suzaku Observation of HESS J1507-622

HESS J1507-622 is one of the bright unidentified TeV objects. HESS J1507-622 is unique, since the location of the object is off the Galactic disk. We observed the HESS J1507-622 region with the Suzaku XIS, and found no obvious counterpart although there is no severe interstellar extinction. However, there are two interesting X-ray objects; SRC1 is a bright extended source, and SRC2 is a faint diffuse object. If either of them is a counterpart, the flux ratio between TeV and X-ray is large, and HESS J1507-622 is a real dark particle accelerator.

Revisiting the axion bounds from the Galactic white dwarf luminosity function [Cross-Listing]

It has been shown that the shape of the luminosity function of white dwarfs (WDLF) is a powerful tool to check for the possible existence of DFSZ-axions, a proposed but not yet detected type of weakly interacting particles. With the aim of deriving new constraints on the axion mass, we compute in this paper new theoretical WDLFs on the basis of WD evolving models that incorporate for the feedback of axions on the thermal structure of the white dwarf. We find that the impact of the axion emission into the neutrino emission can not be neglected at high luminosities ($M_{\rm Bol}\lesssim 8$) and that the axion emission needs to be incorporated self-consistently into the evolution of the white dwarfs when dealing with axion masses larger than $m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 5$ meV (i.e. axion-electron coupling constant $g_{ae}\gtrsim 1.4\times 10^{-13}$). We went beyond previous works by including 5 different derivations of the WDLF in our analysis. Then we have performed $\chi^2$-tests to have a quantitative measure of the assessment between the theoretical WDLFs —computed under the assumptions of different axion masses and normalization methods— and the observed WDLFs of the Galactic disk. While all the WDLF studied in this work disfavour axion masses in the range suggested by asteroseismology ($m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 10$ meV; $g_{ae}\gtrsim 2.8\times 10^{-13}$) lower axion masses can not be discarded from our current knowledge of the WDLF of the Galactic Disk. A larger set of completely independent derivations of the WDLF of the galactic disk as well as a detailed study of the uncertainties of the theoretical WDLFs is needed before quantitative constraints on the axion-electron coupling constant can be made.

Revisiting the axion bounds from the Galactic white dwarf luminosity function

It has been shown that the shape of the luminosity function of white dwarfs (WDLF) is a powerful tool to check for the possible existence of DFSZ-axions, a proposed but not yet detected type of weakly interacting particles. With the aim of deriving new constraints on the axion mass, we compute in this paper new theoretical WDLFs on the basis of WD evolving models that incorporate for the feedback of axions on the thermal structure of the white dwarf. We find that the impact of the axion emission into the neutrino emission can not be neglected at high luminosities ($M_{\rm Bol}\lesssim 8$) and that the axion emission needs to be incorporated self-consistently into the evolution of the white dwarfs when dealing with axion masses larger than $m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 5$ meV (i.e. axion-electron coupling constant $g_{ae}\gtrsim 1.4\times 10^{-13}$). We went beyond previous works by including 5 different derivations of the WDLF in our analysis. Then we have performed $\chi^2$-tests to have a quantitative measure of the assessment between the theoretical WDLFs —computed under the assumptions of different axion masses and normalization methods— and the observed WDLFs of the Galactic disk. While all the WDLF studied in this work disfavour axion masses in the range suggested by asteroseismology ($m_a\cos^2\beta\gtrsim 10$ meV; $g_{ae}\gtrsim 2.8\times 10^{-13}$) lower axion masses can not be discarded from our current knowledge of the WDLF of the Galactic Disk. A larger set of completely independent derivations of the WDLF of the galactic disk as well as a detailed study of the uncertainties of the theoretical WDLFs is needed before quantitative constraints on the axion-electron coupling constant can be made.

Rotation Curve Anomaly and Galactic Warp in M51

We revisit the anomaly of rotation curve in the nearly face-on galaxy M51 that shows an apparently faster decrease of rotation velocity than the Keplerian law in the outer disk, further showing apparent counter rotation in the outermost HI disk. We interpret this anomaly as due to warping of the galactic disk, and determined the warping structure of M51′s disk using the tilted-ring method, assuming that the intrinsic rotation curve is normal. It is shown that the disk is nearly flat in the inner disk at a constant inclination angle, but the disk suddenly bends at radius 7.5 kpc by about 27$\deg$. The inclination angle, then, decreases monotonically outward reaching a perfect face-on ring at 18 kpc, beyond which the disk is warped in the opposite sense to the inner disk, resulting in apparent counter rotation.

New galactic star clusters discovered in the VVV survey. Candidates projected on the inner disk and bulge

VISTA Variables in the V\’ia L\’actea (VVV) is one of six ESO Public Surveys using the 4 meter Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). The VVV survey covers the Milky Way bulge and an adjacent section of the disk, and one of the principal objectives is to search for new star clusters within previously unreachable obscured parts of the Galaxy. The primary motivation behind this work is to discover and analyze obscured star clusters in the direction of the inner Galactic disk and bulge. Regions of the inner disk and bulge covered by the VVV survey were visually inspected using composite JHKs color images to select new cluster candidates on the basis of apparent overdensities. DR1, DR2, CASU, and PSF photometry of 10×10 arcmin fields centered on each candidate cluster were used to construct color-magnitude and color-color diagrams. Follow-up spectroscopy of the brightest members of several cluster candidates was obtained in order to clarify their nature. We report the discovery of 58 new infrared cluster candidates. Fundamental parameters such as age, distance, and metallicity were determined for 20 of the most populous clusters.

The Complex Structure of Stars in the Outer Galactic Disk as revealed by Pan-STARRS1

We present a panoptic view of the stellar structure in the Galactic disk’s outer reaches commonly known as the Monoceros Ring, based on data from Pan-STARRS1. These observations clearly show the large extent of the stellar overdensities on both sides of the Galactic disk, extending between b = -25 and b = +35 degrees and covering over 130 degrees in Galactic longitude. The structure exhibits a complex morphology with both stream-like features and a sharp edge to the structure in both the north and the south. We compare this map to mock observations of two published simulations aimed at explaining such structures in the outer stellar disk, one postulating an origin as a tidal stream and the other demonstrating a scenario where the disk is strongly distorted by the accretion of a satellite. These morphological comparisons of simulations can link formation scenarios to observed structures, such as demonstrating that the distorted-disk model can produce thin density features resembling tidal streams. Although neither model produces perfect agreement with the observations–the tidal stream predicts material at larger distances which is not detected while in the distorted disk model the midplane is warped to an excessive degree–future tuning of the models to accommodate these latest data may yield better agreement.

Spectroscopy of southern Galactic disk planetary nebulae. Notes on chemical composition and emission-line stars

We present low resolution spectroscopic observations for a sample of 53 planetary nebulae (PNe) located in the southern sky between Vela and Norma constellations and pertaining to the Galactic disk with expected Galactocentric distance range of 5 to 10 kpc. We derive nebular chemical composition and plasma parameters with the classical empirical method. For most of the observed objects it is done for the first time. The distributions of the chemical abundances of the observed disk sample are generally indistinguishable from Galactic bulge and inner-disk PNe populations. The exceptions are possible differences in He/H distribution comparing to bulge PNe and Ne/Ar comparing to inner-disk PNe sample. The derived O/H ratios for the observed disk PNe fit to the concept of flattening of the chemical gradient in the inner parts of the Milky Way. We use the spectra to search for emission-line central stars in the observed sample. We found 6 new emission-line central stars comprising examples of all known types: WEL, VL and [WR]. We confirm that these types represent three evolutionary unconnected forms of enhanced mass-loss in the central stars of PNe. We note on the problem of high ionisation PNe with nebular CIV emission that can mimic the presence of WEL central stars in 1D spectra.

Spectroscopy of southern Galactic disk planetary nebulae. Notes on chemical composition and emission-line stars [Replacement]

We present low resolution spectroscopic observations for a sample of 53 planetary nebulae (PNe) located in the southern sky between Vela and Norma constellations and pertaining to the Galactic disk with expected Galactocentric distance range of 5 to 10 kpc. We derive nebular chemical composition and plasma parameters with the classical empirical method. For most of the observed objects, this has been done for the first time. The distributions of the chemical abundances of the observed disk sample are generally indistinguishable from Galactic bulge and inner-disk PNe populations. The exceptions are possible differences in the He/H distribution, as compared to bulge PNe and Ne/Ar, compared to inner-disk PNe sample. The derived O/H ratios for the observed disk PNe fit to the concept of flattening of the chemical gradient in the inner parts of the Milky Way. We use the spectra to search for emission-line central stars in the observed sample. We found 6 new emission-line central stars comprising examples of all known types: WEL, VL and [WR]. We confirm that these types represent three evolutionary unconnected forms of enhanced mass-loss in the central stars of PNe. We note on the problem of high ionisation PNe with nebular CIV emission that can mimic the presence of WEL central stars in 1D spectra.

Disk stability under MONDian gravity

Toomre’s $Q$ stability parameter has long been shown through various theoretical arguments and numerical simulations, to be the principal determinant of stability against self-gravity in a galactic disk, under classical gravity. Comparison with observations however, has not always confirmed the condition of $Q=Q_{crit}$ to be well correlated with various critical galactic radii. In this paper we derive the analogous critical parameter, $Q_{M}$, under MONDian gravity. The result is a modification by a factor of $(\sigma \Omega)/a_{0}$, $Q_{M}=(\sigma \Omega)^{2}/(a_{0}G \Sigma)$, where $a_{0}$ is the critical acceleration scale of MOND. We then show through a direct comparison to a homogeneous sample of observed disk galaxies with measured brightness profiles, rotation velocity curves and internal velocity dispersion profiles, that the critical radii at which brightness profiles dip below the exponential fit, are much more accurately predicted by $Q_{M}$ than by the $Q$ of classical gravity. This provides a new and completely independent argument supporting the reality of a change in the form of gravity on reaching the low acceleration regime.

Simulations of magnetized multiphase galactic disk regulated by supernovae explosions

What exactly controls star formation in the Galaxy remains controversial. In particular, the role of feedback and magnetic field are still partially understood. We investigate the role played by supernovae feedback and magnetic field onto the star formation and the structure of the Galactic disk. We perform numerical simulations of the turbulent, magnetized, self-gravitating, multi-phase, supernovae regulated ISM within a 1 kpc stratified box. We implemented various schemes for the supernovae. This goes from a random distribution at a fixed rate to distributions for which the supernovae are spatially and temporally correlated to the formation of stars. To study the influence of magnetic field on star formation, we perform both hydrodynamical and magneto-hydrodynamical simulations. We find that supernovae feedback has a drastic influence on the galactic evolution. The supernovae distribution is playing a very significant role. When the supernovae are not correlated with star formation events, they do not modify significantly the very high star formation rate obtained without feedback. When the supernovae follow the accretion, the star formation rate can be reduced by a factor up to 30. Magnetic field is also playing a significant role. It reduces the star formation rate by a factor up to 2-3 and reduces the number of collapse sites by a factor of about 2. The exact correlation between the supernovae and the dense gas appears to have significant consequences on the galactic disk evolution and the star formation. This implies that small scale studies are necessary to understand and quantify the feedback efficiency. Magnetic field does influence the star formation at galactic scales by reducing the star formation rate and the number of star formation sites.

The Cosmic Ray Population of the Galactic Central Molecular Zone

The conditions in the Galactic Center are often compared with those in starburst systems, which contain higher supernova rates, stronger magnetic fields, more intense radiation fields, and larger amounts of dense molecular gas than in our own Galactic disk. Interactions between such an augmented interstellar medium and cosmic rays result in brighter radio and gamma-ray emission. Here, we test how well the comparisons between the Galactic Center and starburst galaxies hold by applying a model for cosmic ray interactions to the Galactic Center to predict the resulting gamma-ray emission. The model only partially explains the observed gamma-ray and radio emission. The model for the gamma-ray spectrum agrees with the data at TeV energies but not at GeV energies. Additionally, as the fits of the model to the radio and gamma-ray spectra require significant differences in the optimal wind speed and magnetic field strength, we find that the single-zone model alone cannot account for the observed emission from the Galactic Center. Our model is improved by including a soft, additional cosmic-ray population. We assess such a cosmic ray population and its potential sources and find that a cosmic-ray electron spectrum is energetically favored over a cosmic-ray proton spectrum.

Stellar Abundances in the Solar Neighborhood: The Hypatia Catalog

We compile spectroscopic abundance data from 84 literature sources for 50 elements across 3058 stars in the solar neighborhood, within 150 pc of the Sun, to produce the Hypatia Catalog. We evaluate the variability of the spread in abundance measurements reported for the same star by different surveys. We also explore the likely association of the star within the Galactic disk, the corresponding observation and abundance determination methods for all catalogs in Hypatia, the influence of specific catalogs on the overall abundance trends, and the effect of normalizing all abundances to the same solar scale. The resulting large number of stellar abundance determinations in the Hypatia Catalog are analyzed only for thin-disk stars with observations that are consistent between literature sources. As a result of our large dataset, we find that the stars in the solar neighborhood may be reveal an asymmetric abundance distribution, such that a [Fe/H]-rich group near to the mid-plane is deficient in Mg, Si, S, Ca, Sc II, Cr II, and Ni as compared to stars further from the plane. The Hypatia Catalog has a wide number of applications, including exoplanet hosts, thick and thin disk stars, or stars with different kinematic properties.

On the Chemical and Structural Evolution of the Galactic Disk

We study the detailed properties of the radial metallicity gradient in the stellar disk of our Galaxy to constrain its chemical and structural evolution. For this purpose we select and analyze $\sim$ 18,500 disk stars taken from two datasets, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and the High-Accuracy Radial velocity Planetary Searcher (HARPS). On these surveys we examine the metallicity gradient, $\Delta$[Fe/H]/$\Delta R_{\rm g}$, along the guiding-center radii, $R_{\rm g}$, of stars and its dependence on the [$\alpha$/Fe] ratios, to infer the original metallicity distribution of the gas disk from which those stars formed and its time evolution. In both sample sources, the thick-disk candidate stars characterized by high [$\alpha$/Fe] ratios ([$\alpha$/Fe] $>$ 0.3 in SDSS, [$\alpha$/Fe] $>$ 0.2 in HARPS) are found to show a positive $\Delta$[Fe/H]/$\Delta R_{\rm g}$, whereas the thin-disk candidate stars characterized by lower [$\alpha$/Fe] ratios show a negative one. Furthermore, we find that the relatively young thin-disk population characterized by much lower [$\alpha$/Fe] ratios ([$\alpha$/Fe] $<$ 0.2 in SDSS, [$\alpha$/Fe] $<$ 0.1 in HARPS) shows notably a flattening $\Delta$[Fe/H]/$\Delta R_{\rm g}$ with decreasing [$\alpha$/Fe], in contrast to the old one with higher [$\alpha$/Fe] ratios ([$\alpha$/Fe] $\sim$ 0.2 in SDSS, [$\alpha$/Fe] $\sim$ 0.1 in HARPS). The possible implication for early disk evolution is discussed, in the context of galaxy formation accompanying the rapid infall of primordial gas on the inner disk region, which can generate a positive metallicity gradient, and the subsequent chemical evolution of the disk, which results in a flattening effect of a metallicity gradient at later epochs.

The effects of metallicity on the Galactic disk population of white dwarfs

It has been known for a long time that stellar metallicity plays a significant role in the determination of the ages of the different Galactic stellar populations, when main sequence evolutionary tracks are employed. Here we analyze the role that metallicity plays on the white dwarf luminosity function of the Galactic disk, which is often used to determine its age. We employ a Monte Carlo population synthesis code that accounts for the properties of the population of Galactic disk white dwarfs. Our code incorporates the most up-to-date evolutionary cooling sequences for white dwarfs with hydrogen-rich and hydrogen-deficient atmospheres for both carbon-oxygen and oxygen-neon cores. We use two different models to assess the evolution of the metallicity, one in which the adopted metallicity is constant with time, but with a moderate dispersion, and a second one in which the metallicity increases with time. We found that our theoretical results are in a very satisfactory agreement with the observational luminosity functions obtained from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and from the SuperCOSMOS Sky Survey (SSS), independently of the adopted age-metallicity law. In particular, we found that the age-metallicity law has no noticeable impact in shaping the bright branch of the white dwarf luminosity function, and that the position of its cut-off is almost insensitive to the adopoted age-metallicity relationship. Because the shape of the bright branch of the white dwarf luminosity function is insensitive to the age-metallicity law, it can be safely employed to test the theoretical evolutionary sequences, while due to the limited sensitivity of the position of the drop-off to the distribution of metallicities, its location provides a robust indicator of the age of the Galactic disk.

The role of the Galactic Halo and the Single Source in the formation of the cosmic ray anisotropy

The existence of the cosmic ray Halo in our Galaxy has been discussed for more than half a century. If it is real it could help to explain some puzzling features of the cosmic ray flux: its small radial gradient, nearly perfect isotropy and the low level of the fine structure in the energy spectra of the various particles. All these features could be understood if: (a) the Halo has a big size (b) cosmic rays in the Halo have a unform spatial distribution and (c) the cosmic ray density in the Halo is comparable or even higher than that in the Galactic Disk. The main topic of the paper concerns the present status of the anisotropy and a model for its formation. In our model the extremely small amplitude of the dipole anisotropy is due to the dilution of the anisotropy in the Disk by the dominating isotropic cosmic rays from the Halo. Some minor deviations from complete isotropy in the sub-PeV and PeV energy regions point out to the possible contribution of the Single Source with the phase of its first harmonic opposite to the phase produced by the Disk.

Bending and Breathing Modes of the Galactic Disk

We explore the hypothesis that a passing satellite or dark matter subhalo has excited coherent oscillations of the Milky Way’s stellar disk in the direction perpendicular to the Galactic midplane. This work is motivated by recent observations of spatially dependent bulk vertical motions within ~ kpc of the Sun. A satellite can transfer a fraction of its orbital energy to the disk stars as it plunges through the Galactic midplane thereby heating and thickening the disk. Bulk motions arise during the early stages of such an event when the disk is still in an unrelaxed state. We present simple toy-model calculations and simulations of disk-satellite interactions, which show that the response of the disk depends on the relative velocity of the satellite. When the component of the satellite’s velocity perpendicular to the disk is small compared with that of the stars, the perturbation is predominantly a bending mode. Conversely, breathing and higher order modes are excited when the vertical velocity of the satellite is larger than that of the stars. We argue that the compression and rarefaction motions seen in three different surveys are in fact breathing mode perturbations of the Galactic disk.

The scale height of gas traced by [CII] in the Galactic plane

The distribution of various interstellar gas components and the pressure in the interstellar medium (ISM) is a result of the interplay of different dynamical mechanisms and energy sources on the gas in the Milky Way. The scale heights of the different gas tracers, such as HI and CO, are a measure of these processes. The scale height of [CII] emission in the Galactic plane is important for understanding those ISM components not traced by CO or HI. We determine the average distribution of [CII] perpendicular to the plane in the inner Galactic disk and compare it to the distributions of other key gas tracers, such as CO and HI. We calculated the vertical, z, distribution of [CII] in the inner Galactic disk by adopting a model for the emission that combines the latitudinal, b, spectrally unresolved BICE survey, with the spectrally resolved $Herschel$ Galactic plane survey of [CII] at b = 0 deg. Our model assumed a Gaussian emissivity distribution vertical to the plane, and related the distribution in z to that of the latitude b using the spectrally resolved [CII] Herschel survey as the boundary solution for the emissivity at b=0 deg. We find that the distribution of [CII] perpendicular to the plane has a full-width half-maximum of 172 pc, larger than that of CO, which averages ~110 pc in the inner Galaxy, but smaller than that of HI, ~230 pc, and is offset by -28 pc. We explain the difference in distributions of [CII], CO, and HI as due to [CII] tracing a mix of ISM components. Models of hydrostatic equilibrium of clouds in the disk predict different scale heights, for the same interstellar pressure. The diffuse molecular clouds with [CII] but no CO emission likely have a scale height intermediate between the low density atomic hydrogen HI clouds and the dense CO molecular clouds.

MOA-2013-BLG-220Lb: Massive Planetary Companion to Galactic-Disk Host [Replacement]

We report the discovery of MOA-2013-BLG-220Lb, which has a super-Jupiter mass ratio $q=3.01\pm 0.02\times 10^{-3}$ relative to its host. The proper motion, $\mu=12.5\pm 1\, {\rm mas}\,{\rm yr}^{-1}$, is one of the highest for microlensing planets yet discovered, implying that it will be possible to separately resolve the host within $\sim 7$ years. Two separate lines of evidence imply that the planet and host are in the Galactic disk. The planet could have been detected and characterized purely with follow-up data, which has important implications for microlensing surveys, both current and into the LSST era.

Widespread Rotationally-Hot Hydronium Ion in the Galactic Interstellar Medium

We present new observations of the (6,6) and (9,9) inversion transitions of the hydronium ion toward Sagittarius B2(N) and W31C. Sensitive observations toward Sagittarius B2(N) show that the high, ~ 500 K, rotational temperatures characterizing the population of the highly-excited metastable H3O+ rotational levels are present over a wide range of velocities corresponding to the Sagittarius B2 envelope, as well as the foreground gas clouds between the Sun and the source. Observations of the same lines toward W31C, a line of sight that does not intersect the Central Molecular Zone, but instead traces quiescent gas in the Galactic disk, also imply a high rotational temperature of ~ 380 K, well in excess of the kinetic temperature of the diffuse Galactic interstellar medium. While it is plausible that some fraction of the molecular gas may be heated to such high temperatures in the active environment of the Galactic center, characterized by high X-ray and cosmic ray fluxes, shocks and high degree of turbulence, this is unlikely in the largely quiescent environment of the Galactic disk clouds. We suggest instead that the highly-excited states of the hydronium ion are populated mainly by exoergic chemical formation processes and temperature describing the rotational level population does not represent the physical temperature of the medium. The same arguments may be applicable to other symmetric top rotors, such as ammonia. This offers a simple explanation to the long-standing puzzle of the presence of a pervasive, hot molecular gas component in the central region of the Milky Way. Moreover, our observations suggest that this is a universal process, not limited to the active environments associated with galactic nuclei.

The Galactic bar and the large scale velocity gradients in the Galactic disk

We investigate whether the cylindrical (galactocentric) radial velocity gradient of ~ -3 km/sec/kpc, directed radially from the Galactic center and recently observed in the stars of the Solar Neighborhood with the RAVE survey, can be explained by the resonant effects of the bar near the Solar Neighborhood. We compare the results of test particle simulations of the Milky Way with a potential including a rotating bar with observations from the RAVE survey. To this end we apply the RAVE selection function to the simulations, and convolve these with the characteristic RAVE errors. We explore different "solar neighborhoods" in the simulations as well as different bar models. We find that the bar induces a negative radial velocity gradient at every height from the Galactic plane, outside the Outer Lindblad Resonance, and for angles from the long axis of the bar compatible with the current estimates. The selection function and errors do not wash away the gradient, but often make it steeper, especially near the Galactic plane because this is where the RAVE survey is less radially extended. No gradient in the vertical velocity is present in our simulations, from which we may conclude that this cannot be induced by the bar.

The Galactic bar and the large scale velocity gradients in the Galactic disk [Replacement]

Aims: We investigate whether the cylindrical (galactocentric) radial velocity gradient of ~ -3 km/s/kpc, directed radially from the Galactic center and recently observed in the stars of the solar neighborhood with the RAVE survey, can be explained by the resonant effects of the bar near the solar neighborhood. Methods: We compared the results of test particle simulations of the Milky Way with a potential that includes a rotating bar with observations from the RAVE survey. To this end we applied the RAVE selection function to the simulations and convolved these with the characteristic RAVE errors. We explored different "solar neighborhoods" in the simulations, as well as different bar models Results: We find that the bar induces a negative radial velocity gradient at every height from the Galactic plane, outside the outer Lindblad resonance and for angles from the long axis of the bar compatible with the current estimates. The selection function and errors do not wash away the gradient, but often make it steeper, especially near the Galactic plane, because this is where the RAVE survey is less radially extended. No gradient in the vertical velocity ispresent in our simulations, from which we may conclude that this cannot be induced by the bar.

The Gaia-ESO Survey: radial metallicity gradients and age-metallicity relation of stars in the Milky Way disk [Replacement]

We study the relationship between age, metallicity, and alpha-enhancement of FGK stars in the Galactic disk. The results are based upon the analysis of high-resolution UVES spectra from the Gaia-ESO large stellar survey. We explore the limitations of the observed dataset, i.e. the accuracy of stellar parameters and the selection effects that are caused by the photometric target preselection. We find that the colour and magnitude cuts in the survey suppress old metal-rich stars and young metal-poor stars. This suppression may be as high as 97% in some regions of the age-metallicity relationship. The dataset consists of 144 stars with a wide range of ages from 0.5 Gyr to 13.5 Gyr, Galactocentric distances from 6 kpc to 9.5 kpc, and vertical distances from the plane 0 < |Z| < 1.5 kpc. On this basis, we find that i) the observed age-metallicity relation is nearly flat in the range of ages between 0 Gyr and 8 Gyr; ii) at ages older than 9 Gyr, we see a decrease in [Fe/H] and a clear absence of metal-rich stars; this cannot be explained by the survey selection functions; iii) there is a significant scatter of [Fe/H] at any age; and iv) [Mg/Fe] increases with age, but the dispersion of [Mg/Fe] at ages > 9 Gyr is not as small as advocated by some other studies. In agreement with earlier work, we find that radial abundance gradients change as a function of vertical distance from the plane. The [Mg/Fe] gradient steepens and becomes negative. In addition, we show that the inner disk is not only more alpha-rich compared to the outer disk, but also older, as traced independently by the ages and Mg abundances of stars.

The Gaia-ESO Survey: radial metallicity gradients and age-metallicity relation of stars in the Milky Way disk

We study the relationship between age, metallicity, and alpha-enhancement of FGK stars in the Galactic disk. The results are based upon the analysis of high-resolution UVES spectra from the Gaia-ESO large stellar survey. We explore the limitations of the observed dataset, i.e. the accuracy of stellar parameters (including non-LTE), and the survey selection effects, which are caused by observing the stars in a given photometric box. We find that the colour and magnitude cuts on the survey suppress old metal-rich stars and young metal-poor stars. This suppression may be as large as 97% in some regions of the age-metallicity relationship. The dataset consists of 144 stars with a wide range of ages (0.5 to 13.5 Gyr), Galacto-centric distances from $6$ to 9.5 kpc and vertical distances above the plane 0 < |Z| < 1.5 kpc.In the context of Galaxy formation, we find that: i) the observed age-metallicity relation is nearly flat in the range of ages between 0 and 8 Gyr, ii) there is a decline in [Fe/H] for stars with ages above 9 Gyr, which is where we detect no metal-rich stars at all; this cannot be explained by the survey selection functions, iii) there is a significant scatter of [Fe/H] at any age. In agreement with earlier work in the literature, we find that radial abundance gradients change as a function of vertical distance above the plane. The Mg gradient steepens and becomes negative. There is a well-defined double-branching of Mg abundances for stars at |Z| > 300 pc above the plane: the low and high alpha-components partly overlapping in age. The dispersion of [Mg/Fe] abundances is significant at any age. In particular, the stars with ages above 9 Gyr show a broad range in both [Mg/Fe], from 0 to 0.4 dex, and metallicity, from solar to [Fe/H] ~ -1.

The Gaia-ESO Survey: radial metallicity gradients and age-metallicity relation of stars in the Milky Way disk [Replacement]

We study the relationship between age, metallicity, and alpha-enhancement of FGK stars in the Galactic disk. The results are based upon the analysis of high-resolution UVES spectra from the Gaia-ESO large stellar survey. We explore the limitations of the observed dataset, i.e. the accuracy of stellar parameters and the selection effects that are caused by the photometric target preselection. We find that the colour and magnitude cuts in the survey suppress old metal-rich stars and young metal-poor stars. This suppression may be as large as 97% in some regions of the age-metallicity relationship. The dataset consists of 144 stars with a wide range of ages (0.5 to 13.5 Gyr), Galacto-centric distances from 6 to 9.5 kpc and vertical distances from the plane 0 < |Z| < 1.5 kpc. On this basis, we find that: i) the observed age-metallicity relation is nearly flat in the range of ages between 0 and 8 Gyr, ii) at ages older than 9 Gyr, we see a decrease in [Fe/H] and a clear absence of metal-rich stars; this cannot be explained by the survey selection functions, iii) there is a significant scatter of [Fe/H] at any age, iv) [Mg/Fe] increases with age, but the dispersion of [Mg/Fe] at ages > 9 Gyr is not as small as advocated by some other studies. In agreement with earlier work, we find that radial abundance gradients change as a function of vertical distance from the plane. The [Mg/Fe] gradient steepens and become negative. We also show that the inner disk is not only more alpha-rich compared to the outer disk, but also older, as traced independently by the ages and Mg abundances of stars.

The Gaia-ESO Survey: Abundance ratios in the inner-disk open clusters Trumpler 20, NGC 4815, NGC 6705

Open clusters are key tools to study the spatial distribution of abundances in the disk and their evolution with time. Using the first release of stellar parameters and abundances of the Gaia-ESO Survey, we analyse the chemical properties of stars in three old/intermediate-age open clusters, namely NGC 6705, NGC 4815, and Trumpler 20, all located in the inner part of the Galactic disk at Galactocentric radius R$_{GC}\sim$7 kpc, aiming at proving their homogeneity and at comparing them with the field population. We study the abundance ratios of elements belonging to two different nucleosynthetic channels: $\alpha$-elements and iron-peak elements. The main results can be summarised as follows: i) cluster members are chemically homogeneous within 3-$\sigma$ in all analysed elements; ii) the three clusters have comparable [El/Fe] patters within $\sim$1-$\sigma$, but they differ in their global metal content [El/H], with NGC 4815 having the lowest metallicity. Their [El/Fe] ratios show differences and analogies with those of the field population, both in the solar neighbourhood and in the bulge/inner disk; iii) comparing the abundance ratios with the results of two chemical evolution models and with field star abundance distributions, we find that the abundance ratios of Mg, Ni, Ca in NGC 6705 might require an inner birthplace, implying a subsequent variation of its R$_{GC}$ during its lifetime, consistent with previous orbit determination. The full dataset of the Gaia-ESO Survey will be a superlative tool to constrain the chemical evolution of our Galaxy by disentangling different formation and evolution scenarios.

The WISE Catalog of Galactic HII Regions

Using data from the all-sky Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite, we made a catalog of over 8000 Galactic HII regions and HII region candidates by searching for their characteristic mid-infrared (MIR) morphology. WISE has sufficient sensitivity to detect the MIR emission from HII regions located anywhere in the Galactic disk. We believe this is the most complete catalog yet of regions forming massive stars in the Milky Way. Of the ~8000 cataloged sources, ~1500 have measured radio recombination line (RRL) or H$\alpha$ emission, and are thus known to be HII regions. This sample improves on previous efforts by resolving HII region complexes into multiple sources and by removing duplicate entries. There are ~2500 candidate HII regions in the catalog that are spatially coincident with radio continuum emission. Our group’s previous RRL studies show that ~95% of such targets are HII regions. We find that ~500 of these candidates are also positionally associated with known HII region complexes, so the probability of their being bona fide HII regions is even higher. At the sensitivity limits of existing surveys, ~4000 catalog sources show no radio continuum emission. Using data from the literature, we find distances for ~1500 catalog sources, and molecular velocities for ~1500 HII region candidates.

On the alignment of PNe and local magnetic field at the galactic centre: MHD numerical simulations

For the past decade observations of the alignement of PNe symmetries with respect to the galactic disk have led to conflicting results. Recently observational evidence for alignment between PNe and local interstellar magnetic fields in the central part of the Galaxy ($b < 5^\circ$) has been found. We studied the role of the interstellar magnetic field on the dynamical evolution of a PN by means of an analytical model and from 3D MHD numerical simulations. We test under what conditions typical ejecta would have their dynamics severely modified by an interstellar magnetic field. We found that uniform fields of $> 100\mu$G are required in order to be dynamically dominant. This is found to occur only at later evolutionary stages, therefore being unable to change the general morphology of the nebula. However, the symmetry axis of bipolar and elliptical nebulae end up aligned to the external field. This result can explain why different samples of PNe result in different conclusions regarding the alignment of PNe. Objects located at high galactic latitudes, or at large radii, should present no preferential alignment with respect to the galactic plane. PNe located at the galactic centre and low latitudes would, on the other hand, be preferentiably aligned to the disk. Finally, we present synthetic polarization maps of the nebulae to show that the polarization vectors, as well as the field lines at the expanding shell, are not uniform even in the strongly magnetized case, indicating that polarization maps of nebulae are not adequate in probing the orientation, or intensity, of the dominant external field.

Large Variety of New Pulsating Stars in the OGLE-III Galactic Disk Fields

We present the results of a search for pulsating stars in the 7.12 deg^2 OGLE-III Galactic disk area in the direction tangent to the Centaurus Arm. We report the identification of 20 Classical Cepheids, 45 RR Lyr type stars, 14 Long-Period Variables, such as Miras and Semi-Regular Variables, and 56 very likely delta Sct type stars. Based on asteroseismic models constructed for one quadruple-mode and six triple-mode delta Sct type pulsators, we estimated masses, metallicities, ages, and distance moduli to these objects. The modeled stars have masses in the range 0.9-2.5 M_sun and are located at distances between 2.5 kpc and 6.2 kpc. Two triple-mode and one double-mode pulsators seem to be Population II stars of the SX Phe type, probably from the Galactic halo. All reported pulsating variables but one object are new discoveries. They are included in the OGLE-III Catalog of Variable Stars. Finally, we introduce the on-going OGLE-IV Galactic Disk Survey, which covers half of the Galactic plane. For the purposes of future works on the spiral structure and star formation history of the Milky Way, we have already compiled a list of known Galactic Classical Cepheids.

Large Variety of New Pulsating Stars in the OGLE-III Galactic Disk Fields [Replacement]

We present the results of a search for pulsating stars in the 7.12 deg^2 OGLE-III Galactic disk area in the direction tangent to the Centaurus Arm. We report the identification of 20 Classical Cepheids, 45 RR Lyr type stars, 31 Long-Period Variables, such as Miras and Semi-Regular Variables, one pulsating white dwarf, and 58 very likely delta Sct type stars. Based on asteroseismic models constructed for one quadruple-mode and six triple-mode delta Sct type pulsators, we estimated masses, metallicities, ages, and distance moduli to these objects. The modeled stars have masses in the range 0.9-2.5 M_sun and are located at distances between 2.5 kpc and 6.2 kpc. Two triple-mode and one double-mode pulsators seem to be Population II stars of the SX Phe type, probably from the Galactic halo. Our sample also includes candidates for Type II Cepheids and unclassified short-period (P<0.23 d) multi-mode stars which could be either delta Sct or beta Cep type stars. One of the detected variables is a very likely delta Sct star with an exceptionally high peak-to-peak I-band amplitude of 0.35 mag at the very short period of 0.0196 d. All reported pulsating variables but one object are new discoveries. They are included in the OGLE-III Catalog of Variable Stars. Finally, we introduce the on-going OGLE-IV Galactic Disk Survey, which covers more than half of the Galactic plane. For the purposes of future works on the spiral structure and star formation history of the Milky Way, we have already compiled a list of known Galactic Classical Cepheids.

Analyzing spiral structure in a galactic disk with a gaseous component

Using GADGET2, we performed an SPH+N-body simulation of a galactic disk with stellar and gas particles. This simulation allows to compare the spiral structure in the different disk components. Also, we performed a simulation without gaseous component to explore the effects of the gas in the spiral pattern of the stars.

Thermals in stratified regions of the ISM

We present a model of a "thermal" (i.e., a hot bubble) rising within an exponentially stratified region of the ISM. This model includes terms representing the ram pressure braking and the entrainment of environmental gas into the thermal. We then calibrate the free parameters associated with these two terms through a comparison with 3D numerical simulations of a rising bubble. Finally, we apply our "thermal" model to the case of a hot bubble produced by a SN within the stratified ISM of the Galactic disk.

A couple of recent developments in the structure of the outer disk of the Milky Way

In this contribution we summarize recent achievements by our group on the understanding of the structure of the outer Galactic disk, with particular emphasis to the outer disk extent, and the spiral structure beyond the solar circle.

Extreme Galaxies During Reionization: Testing ISM and Disk Models

We test the ability of equilibrium galactic disk and one-zone interstellar medium models to describe the physical and emission properties of a sample of quasar hosts, submillimeter galaxies, and Lyman-alpha emitters during the epoch of cosmic reionization at z>~6. We find that the size, line widths, star formation rates, black hole accretion rates, gas masses and temperatures, and the relationships between these properties are all well-described by our model. In particular, the quasars in our sample are hosted by halos with masses of roughly 10^12–10^13 M_sun and require an inflow velocity of gas toward the disk center of v_in=sqrt(2) beta sigma with beta~0.1—somewhat higher if quasar outflows are significant—where sigma is the halo velocity dispersion. We also provide approximate fitting formulae to our results for comparison with future observations. However, our fiducial model underestimates the [CII] line emission from the systems in our sample by an order of magnitude or more. We explore two variants to our model and find that the requisite flux can be produced if either the star formation efficiency of molecular clouds is higher or the depletion of metals onto dust at fixed metallicity is lower at higher redshift than expected from standard models. Our models also predict a higher median density in molecular clouds than found in fits to observations resulting from turbulent fragmentation in molecular clouds leading to a more thermalized CO(6-5) line and a higher CO(6-5)/CO(1-0) ratio than determined observationally. While we leave this last issue unresolved in detail, we suggest that either clouds smaller than the local Jeans mass or a support mechanism other than turbulence could result in a lower turbulent Mach number and more subthermal CO(6-5) emission.

Star Formation Sites toward the Galactic Center Region: The Correlation of CH3OH Masers, H2O Masers, and Near-IR Green Sources

We present a study of star formation in the Central Molecular Zone (CMZ) of our Galaxy through the association of three star formation indicators: 6.7 GHz CH3OH masers, 22 GHz H2O masers, and enhanced 4.5 micron emission (`green’) sources. We explore how star formation in the Galactic center (l < 1.3 deg, |b| < 10′, where l and b are Galactic longitude and Galactic latitude) compares with that of the Galactic disk (6 deg < l < 345 deg, |b| < 2 deg). Using an automated algorithm, we search for enhanced 4.5 micron emission sources toward 6.7 GHz CH3OH masers detected in the Parkes Methanol Multibeam Survey. We combine these results with our 22 GHz H2O maser survey of the CMZ carried out with the Mopra telescope. We find that the correlation of CH3OH masers with green sources is a function of Galactic latitude, with a minimum close to b=0 and increasing with |b| (toward the central part of the Galaxy, 6 deg < l < 345 deg, |b| < 2 deg). We find no significant difference between the correlation rate of CH3OH masers with green sources in the CMZ and the disk. This suggests that although the physical conditions of the gas are different in the Galactic center from that of the Galactic disk, once gravitational instability sets in at sufficiently high densities, signatures of star formation appear to be similar in both regions. Moreover, the detection of green sources, even at the distance of the Galactic center, shows that our technique can easily identify the early stages of star formation, especially in low extinction regions of the Galaxy. Through the association of H2O and CH3OH masers, we identify 15 star-forming sites in the CMZ. We find no coincident H2O and CH3OH masers outside the CMZ (with limited H2O maser survey coverage outside the CMZ), possibly indicating a difference in the maser evolutionary sequence for star-forming cores in the Galactic center region and the disk.

Substructure in bulk velocities of Milky Way disk stars

We find that Galactic disk stars near the anticenter exhibit velocity asymmetries in both the Galactocentric radial and vertical components across the mid-plane as well as azimuthally. These findings are based on LAMOST spectroscopic velocities for a sample of ~400,000 F-type stars, combined with proper motions from the PPMXL catalog for which we have derived corrections to the zero points based in part on spectroscopically discovered galaxies and QSOs from LAMOST. In the region within 2 kpc outside the Sun’s radius and +/-2 kpc from the Galactic midplane, we show that stars above the plane exhibit net outward radial motions with downward vertical velocities, while stars below the plane have roughly the opposite behavior. We discuss this in the context of other recent findings, and conclude that we are likely seeing the signature of vertical disturbances to the disk due to an external perturbation.

Exploring the Milky Way stellar disk. A detailed elemental abundance study of 703 F and G dwarf stars in the Solar neighbourhood

AIMS: The aim of this paper is to explore and map the age and abundance structure of the stars in the nearby Galactic disk. Methods: We have conducted a high-resolution spectroscopic study of 703 F and G dwarf stars in the Solar neighbourhood. The star sample has been kinematically selected to trace the Galactic thin and thick disks to their extremes, the metal-rich stellar halo, sub-structures in velocity space such as the Hercules stream and the Arcturus moving group, as well as stars that cannot (kinematically) be associated with either the thin disk or the thick disk. The determination of stellar parameters and elemental abundances is based on a standard 1-D LTE analysis using equivalent width measurements in high-resolution (R=40000-110000) and high signal-to-noise (S/N=150-300) spectra obtained with FEROS, SOFIN, UVES, and MIKE. NLTE corrections for individual Fe I lines were employed in every step of the analysis. Results: We present stellar parameters, stellar ages, kinematical parameters, orbital parameters, and detailed elemental abundances for O, Na, Mg, Al, Si, Ca, Ti, Cr, Fe, Ni, Zn, Y, and Ba for 703 nearby F and G dwarf stars. Our data show there is an old and alpha-enhanced disk population, and then a younger and less alpha-enhanced disk population. While they greatly overlap in metallicity between -0.7<[Fe/H]<+0.1 they show a bimodal distribution in [alpha/Fe]. This bimodality becomes even clearer if stars that are more susceptible to uncertainties and NLTE effects are discarded, showing that it is important to constrain the data set to a narrow range in the stellar parameters if small differences between different stellar populations are to be revealed. We furthermore find that the alpha-enhanced population have orbital parameters placing their birthplaces in the inner Galactic disk while the low-alpha stars mainly come from the outer Galactic disk, abridged…

Exploring the Milky Way stellar disk. A detailed elemental abundance study of 714 F and G dwarf stars in the Solar neighbourhood [Replacement]

ABRIDGED: METHODS: We have conducted a high-resolution spectroscopic study of 714 F and G dwarf and subgiant stars in the Solar neighbourhood. The star sample has been kinematically selected to trace the Galactic thin and thick disks to their extremes…… The determination of stellar parameters and elemental abundances is based on a standard 1-D LTE analysis using equivalent width measurements in high-resolution (R=40000-110000) and high signal-to-noise (S/N=150-300) spectra obtained with….. RESULTS: …. Our data show that there is an old and alpha-enhanced disk population, and a younger and less alpha-enhanced disk population. While they overlap greatly in metallicity between -0.7<[Fe/H]<+0.1, they show a bimodal distribution in [alpha/Fe]. This bimodality becomes even clearer if stars where stellar parameters and abundances show larger uncertainties (Teff<5400 K) are discarded, showing that it is important to constrain the data set to a narrow range in the stellar parameters if small differences between stellar populations are to be revealed. We furthermore find that the alpha-enhanced population has orbital parameters placing the stellar birthplaces in the inner Galactic disk while the low-alpha stars mainly come from the outer Galactic disk……….. We furthermore have discovered that a standard 1-D, LTE analysis, utilising ionisation and excitation balance of Fe I and Fe II lines produces a flat lower main sequence. As the exact cause for this effect is unclear we chose to apply an empirical correction. Turn-off, and more evolved, stars, appears to be un-affected.

Nitrogen Abundances and the Distance Moduli of the Pleiades and Hyades

Recent reanalyses of HIPPARCOS parallax data confirm a previously noted discrepancy with the Pleiades distance modulus estimated from main-sequence fitting in the color-magnitude diagram. One proposed explanation of this distance modulus discrepancy is a Pleiades He abundance that is significantly larger than the Hyades value. We suggest that, based on our theoretical and observational understanding of Galactic chemical evolution, nitrogen abundances may serve as a proxy for helium abundances of disk stars. Utilizing high-resolution near-UV Keck/HIRES spectroscopy, we determine N abundances in the Pleiades and Hyades dwarfs from NH features in the 3330 Ang region. While our Hyades N abundances show a modest 0.2 dex trend over a 800 K Teff range, we find the Pleiades N abundance (by number) is 0.13+/-0.05 dex lower than in the Hyades for stars in a smaller overlapping Teff range around 6000 K; possible systematic errors in the lower Pleiades N abundance result are estimated to be at the <0.10 dex level. Our results indicate [N/Fe]=0 for both the Pleiades and Hyades, consistent with the ratios exhibited by local Galactic disk field stars in other studies. If N production is a reliable tracer of He production in the disk, then our results suggest the Pleiades He abundance is no larger than that in the Hyades. This finding is supported by the relative Pleiades-Hyades C, O, and Fe abundances interpreted in the current context of Galactic chemical evolution, and is resistant to the effects on our derived N abundances of a He abundance difference like that needed to explain the Pleiades distance modulus discrepancy. A physical explanation of the Pleiades distance modulus discrepancy does not appear to be related to He abundance.

A direct dynamical measurement of the Milky Way's disk surface density profile, disk scale length, and dark matter profile at 4 kpc < R < 9 kpc

We present and apply rigorous dynamical modeling with which we infer unprecedented constraints on the stellar and dark matter mass distribution within our Milky Way (MW), based on large sets of phase-space data on individual stars. Specifically, we model the dynamics of 16,269 G-type dwarfs from SEGUE, which sample 5 < R/kpc < 12 and 0.3 < |Z|/kpc < 3. We independently fit a parameterized MW potential and a three-integral, action-based distribution function (DF) to the phase-space data of 43 separate abundance-selected sub-populations (MAPs), accounting for the complex selection effects affecting the data. We robustly measure the total surface density within 1.1 kpc of the mid-plane to about 5% over the range 4.5< R/kpc < 9. Using metal-poor MAPs with small radial scale lengths as dynamical tracers probes 4.5 < R/kpc < 7, while MAPs with longer radial scale lengths sample 7 < R/kpc < 9. We measure the mass-weighted Galactic disk scale length to be R_d = 2.15+/-0.14 kpc, in agreement with the photometrically inferred spatial distribution of stellar mass. We thereby measure dynamically the mass of the Galactic stellar disk to unprecedented accuracy: M_* = 4.6+/-0.3×10^{10} Msun and a total local surface density of \Sigma_{R_0}(Z=1.1 kpc) = 68+/-4 Msun/pc^2 of which 38+/-4 Msun/pc^2 is contributed by stars and stellar remnants. By combining our surface density measurements with data on the terminal velocity curve, we find that the MW’s disk is maximal in the sense that V_{c,disk} / V_{c,total} = 0.83+/-0.04 at R=2.2R_d. We also constrain for the first time the radial profile of the dark halo at such small Galactocentric radii, finding that \rho_{DM}(r) ~ 1 / r^\alpha with \alpha < 1.53 at 95% confidence. Our results show that action-based distribution-function modeling of complex stellar data sets is now a feasible approach that will be fruitful for interpreting Gaia data.

Minimum Distance Estimation of Milky Way Model Parameters and Related Inference [Replacement]

We propose a method to estimate the location of the Sun in the disk of the Milky Way using a method based on the Hellinger distance and construct confidence sets on our estimate of the unknown location using a bootstrap based method. Assuming the Galactic disk to be two-dimensional, the sought solar location then reduces to the radial distance separating the Sun from the Galactic center and the angular separation of the Galactic center to Sun line, from a pre-fixed line on the disk. On astronomical scales, the unknown solar location is equivalent to the location of us earthlings who observe the velocities of a sample of stars in the neighborhood of the Sun. This unknown location is estimated by undertaking pairwise comparisons of the estimated density of the observed set of velocities of the sampled stars, with densities estimated using synthetic stellar velocity data sets generated at chosen locations in the Milky Way disk according to four base astrophysical models. The "match" between the pair of estimated densities is parameterized by the affinity measure based on the familiar Hellinger distance. We perform a novel cross-validation procedure to establish a desirable "consistency" property of the proposed method.

Minimum Distance Estimation of Milky Way Model Parameters and Related Inference [Cross-Listing]

We propose a method to estimate the location of the Sun in the disk of the Milky Way using a method based on the Hellinger distance and construct confidence sets on our estimate of the unknown location using a bootstrap based method. Assuming the Galactic disk to be two-dimensional, the sought solar location then reduces to the radial distance separating the Sun from the Galactic center and the angular separation of the Galactic center to Sun line, from a pre-fixed line on the disk. On astronomical scales, the unknown solar location is equivalent to the location of us earthlings who observe the velocities of a sample of stars in the neighborhood of the Sun. This unknown location is estimated by undertaking pairwise comparisons of the estimated density of the observed set of velocities of the sampled stars, with densities estimated using synthetic stellar velocity data sets generated at chosen locations in the Milky Way disk according to four base astrophysical models. The "match" between the pair of estimated densities is parameterized by the affinity measure based on the familiar Hellinger distance. We perform a novel cross-validation procedure to establish a desirable "consistency" property of the proposed method.

A hot Jupiter transiting a mid-K dwarf found in the pre-OmegaCam Transit Survey

We describe the pre-OmegaTranS project, a deep survey for transiting extra-solar planets in the Carina region of the Galactic Disk. In 2006-2008 we observed a single dense stellar field with a very high cadence of ~2min using the ESO Wide Field Imager at the La Silla Observatory. Using the Astronomical Wide-field System for Europe and the Munich Difference Imaging Analysis pipeline, a module that has been developed for this project, we created the light curves of 16000 stars with more than 4000 data points which we searched for periodic transit signals using a box-fitting least-squares detection algorithm. All light curves are publicly available. In the course of the pre-OmegaTranS project we identified two planet candidates – POTS-1b and POTS-C2b – which we present in this work. With extensive follow-up observations we were able to confirm one of them, POTS-1b, a hot Jupiter transiting a mid-K dwarf. The planet has a mass of 2.31+-0.77M_Jup and a radius of 0.94+-0.04R_Jup and a period of P=3.16d. The host star POTS-1 has a radius of 0.59+-0.02R_Sun and a mass of 0.70+-0.05M_Sun. Due to its low apparent brightness of I=16.1mag the follow-up and confirmation of POTS-1b was particularly challenging and costly.

Search for hidden turbulent gas through interstellar scintillation

Stars twinkle because their light propagates through the atmosphere. The same phenomenon is expected when the light of remote stars crosses a Galactic – disk or halo – refractive medium such as a molecular cloud. We present the promising results of a test performed with the ESO-NTT and the perspectives of detection.

A Low Metallicity Molecular Cloud In The Lower Galactic Halo

We find evidence for the impact of infalling, low-metallicity gas on the Galactic disk. This is based on FUV absorption line spectra, 21-cm emission line spectra, and FIR mapping to estimate the abundance and physical properties of IV21 (IVC135+54-45), a galactic intermediate-velocity molecular cloud (IVMC) that lies ~300 pc above the disk. The metallicity of IV21 was estimated using observations toward the sdB star PG1144+615, located at a projected distance of 16 pc from the cloud’s densest core, by measuring ion and HI column densities for comparison with known solar abundances. Despite the cloud’s bright FIR emission and large column densities of molecular gas as traced by CO, we find that it has a sub-solar metallicity of log(Z/Z_Sun)=-0.43 +/- 0.12dex. IV21 is thus the first known sub-solar metallicity cloud in the solar neighborhood. In contrast, most intermediate-velocity clouds (IVC) have near-solar metallicities and are believed to originate in the Galactic Fountain. The cloud’s low metallicity is also atypical for Galactic molecular clouds, especially in the light of the bright FIR emission which suggest a substantial dust content. The measured I_100mu/N(HI) ratio is a factor of three below the average found in high latitude \HI clouds within the solar neighborhood. We argue that IV21 represents the impact of an infalling, low-metallicity high-velocity cloud (HVC) that is mixing with disk gas in the lower Galactic halo.

Global survey of star clusters in the Milky Way II. The catalogue of basic parameters

Although they are the main constituents of the Galactic disk population, for half of the open clusters in the Milky Way reported in the literature nothing is known except the raw position and an approximate size. The main goal of this study is to determine a full set of uniform spatial, structural, kinematic, and astrophysical parameters for as many known open clusters as possible. On the basis of stellar data from PPMXL and 2MASS, we used a dedicated data-processing pipeline to determine kinematic and photometric membership probabilities for stars in a cluster region. For an input list of 3784 targets from the literature, we confirm that 3006 are real objects, the vast majority of them are open clusters, but associations and globular clusters are also present. For each confirmed object we determined the exact position of the cluster centre, the apparent size, proper motion, distance, colour excess, and age. For about 1500 clusters, these basic astrophysical parameters have been determined for the first time. For the bulk of the clusters we also derived the tidal radius. We estimated additionally average radial velocities for more than 30% of the confirmed clusters. The present sample (called MWSC) reaches both the central parts of the Milky Way and its outer regions. It is almost complete up to 1.8 kpc from the Sun and also covers neighbouring spiral arms. However, for a small subset of the oldest open clusters ($\log t \gtrsim 9$) we found some evidence of incompleteness within about 1 kpc from the Sun.

The Open Cluster Chemical Analysis and Mapping Survey: Local Galactic Metallicity Gradient with APOGEE using SDSS DR10

The Open Cluster Chemical Analysis and Mapping (OCCAM) Survey aims to produce a comprehensive, uniform, infrared-based dataset for hundreds of open clusters, and constrain key Galactic dynamical and chemical parameters from this sample. This first contribution from the OCCAM survey presents analysis of 141 members stars in 28 open clusters with high-resolution metallicities derived from a large uniform sample collected as part of the SDSS-III/Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE). This sample includes the first high-resolution metallicity measurements for 22 open clusters. With this largest ever uniformly observed sample of open cluster stars we investigate the Galactic disk gradients of both [M/H] and [alpha/M]. We find basically no gradient across this range in [alpha/M], but [M/H] does show a gradient for R_{GC} < 10 kpc and a significant flattening beyond R_{GC} = 10 kpc. In particular, whereas fitting a single linear trend yields an [M/H] gradient of -0.09 +/- 0.03$ dex/kpc — similar to previously measure gradients inside 13 kpc — by independently fitting inside and outside 10 kpc separately we find a significantly steeper gradient near the Sun (7.9 <= R_{GC} <= 10) than previously found (-0.20 +/- 0.08 dex/kpc) and a nearly flat trend beyond 10 kpc (-0.02 +/- 0.09 dex/kpc).

 

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