Journal Article

Radial mixing and the transition between the thick and thin Galactic discs

M. Haywood

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 3, pages 1175-1184
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13395.x
Radial mixing and the transition between the thick and thin Galactic discs

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The analysis of the kinematics of solar neighbourhood stars shows that the low- and high-metallicity tails of the thin disc are populated by objects which orbital properties suggest an origin in the outer and inner Galactic disc, respectively. Signatures of radial migration are identified in various recent samples, and are shown to be responsible for the high-metallicity dispersion in the age–metallicity distribution. Most importantly, it is shown that the population of low-metallicity wanderers of the thin disc (−0.7 < [Fe/H] < −0.3 dex) is also responsible for the apparent hiatus in metallicity with the thick disc (which terminal metallicity is about −0.2 dex). It implies that the thin disc at the solar circle has started to form stars at about this same metallicity. This is also consistent with the fact that ‘transition’ objects, which have α-element abundance intermediate between that of the thick and thin discs, are found in the range [−0.4, −0.2] dex. Once the metal-poor thin disc stars are recognized for what they are – wanderers from the outer thin disc – the parenthood between the two discs can be identified on stars genuinely formed at the solar circle through an evolutionary sequence in [α/Fe] and [Fe/H]. Another consequence is that stars that can be considered as truly resulting of the chemical evolution at the solar circle have a metallicity restricted to about [−0.2, +0.2] dex, confirming an old idea that most chemical evolution in the Milky Way have preceded the thin disc formation.

Keywords: Galaxy: abundances; Galaxy: evolution; solar neighbourhood

Journal Article.  7681 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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