Chemical Abundances in the Ultra-faint Dwarf Galaxies Grus I and Triangulum II: Neutron-capture Elements as a Defining Feature of the Faintest Dwarfs
Author(s)Frebel, Anna L.
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We present high-resolution spectroscopy of four stars in two candidate ultra-faint dwarf galaxies (UFDs), Grus I (Gru I) and Triangulum II (Tri II). Neither object currently has a clearly determined velocity dispersion, placing them in an ambiguous region of parameter space between dwarf galaxies and globular clusters (GCs). No significant metallicity difference is found for the two Gru I stars, but both stars are deficient in neutron-capture elements. We verify previous results that Tri II displays significant spreads in metallicity and [α/Fe]. Neutron-capture elements are not detected in our Tri II data, but we place upper limits at the lower envelope of Galactic halo stars, consistent with previous very low detections. Stars with similarly low neutron-capture element abundances are common in UFDs but rare in other environments. This signature of low neutron-capture element abundances traces chemical enrichment in the least massive star-forming dark matter halos and further shows that the dominant sources of neutron-capture elements in metal-poor stars are rare. In contrast, all known GCs have similar ratios of neutron-capture elements to those of halo stars, suggesting that GCs do not form at the centers of their own dark matter halos. The low neutron-capture element abundances may be the strongest evidence that Gru I and Tri II are (or once were) galaxies rather than GCs, and we expect future observations of these systems to robustly find nonzero velocity dispersions or signs of tidal disruption. However, the nucleosynthetic origin of this low neutron-capture element floor remains unknown.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Physics
American Astronomical Society
Ji, Alexander P. et al. “Chemical Abundances in the Ultra-faint Dwarf Galaxies Grus I and Triangulum II: Neutron-capture Elements as a Defining Feature of the Faintest Dwarfs.” Astrophysical Journal, 870, 2 (January 2019): 83 © 2019 The Author(s)
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