The chemical characterization of halo substructure in the Milky Way based on APOGEE

Danny Horta, Ricardo P. Schiavon, J. Ted Mackereth, David H. Weinberg, Sten Hasselquist, Diane Feuillet, Robert W. O’Connell, Borja Anguiano, Carlos Allende-Prieto, Rachael L. Beaton, Dmitry Bizyaev, Katia Cunha, Doug Geisler, D. A. García-Hernández, Jon Holtzman, Henrik Jönsson, Richard R. Lane, Steve R. Majewski, Szabolcs Mészáros, Dante MinnitiChristian Nitschelm, Matthew Shetrone, Verne V. Smith, Gail Zasowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Galactic haloes in a Λ-CDM universe are predicted to host today a swarm of debris resulting from cannibalized dwarf galaxies. The chemodynamical information recorded in their stellar populations helps elucidate their nature, constraining the assembly history of the Galaxy. Using data from APOGEE and Gaia, we examine the chemical properties of various halo substructures, considering elements that sample various nucleosynthetic pathways. The systems studied are Heracles, Gaia-Enceladus/Sausage (GES), the Helmi stream, Sequoia, Thamnos, Aleph, LMS-1, Arjuna, I’itoi, Nyx, Icarus, and Pontus. Abundance patterns of all substructures are cross-compared in a statistically robust fashion. Our main findings include: (i) the chemical properties of most substructures studied match qualitatively those of dwarf Milky Way satellites, such as the Sagittarius dSph. Exceptions are Nyx and Aleph, which are chemically similar to disc stars, implying that these substructures were likely formed in situ; (ii) Heracles differs chemically from in situ populations such as Aurora and its inner halo counterparts in a statistically significant way. The differences suggest that the star formation rate was lower in Heracles than in the early Milky Way; (iii) the chemistry of Arjuna, LMS-1, and I’itoi is indistinguishable from that of GES, suggesting a possible common origin; (iv) all three Sequoia samples studied are qualitatively similar. However, only two of those samples present chemistry that is consistent with GES in a statistically significant fashion; (v) the abundance patterns of the Helmi stream and Thamnos are different from all other halo substructures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5671-5711
Number of pages41
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • dynamics
  • Galaxy: abundances
  • Galaxy: evolution
  • Galaxy: formation
  • Galaxy: general
  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: kinematics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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