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The formation and early evolution of the Milky Way

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 August 2017

S. Michael Fall*
Affiliation:
Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, England

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In broad outline, the traditional picture for the formation of the Milky Way can be summarized as follows. The proto-galaxy consisted of a slowly rotating cloud of metal-free gas that cooled by bremsstrahlung and recombination radiation. As the internal pressure of the gas decreased, it collapsed in stages with smaller dimensions, faster rotation velocities and flatter shapes until it reached centrifugal support in a fundamental plane. At the same time, the gas was progressively depleted by the formation of stars and enriched with heavy elements by the ejecta from previous generations. The result is a general correlation between the kinematic properties, chemical compositions and relative ages of the stellar populations within the Galaxy. This picture was formulated at the Vatican symposium by Oort (1958) and others and was elaborated by Eggen, Lynden-Bell & Sandage (1962), Sandage, Freeman & Stokes (1970), Gott & Thuan (1976), Larson (1976) and others. Much of the recent work on galaxy formation has been an attempt to extend these ideas to a more comprehensive picture that includes large quantities of dark matter. The purpose of this article is to review several topics concerning the collapse phase in the evolution of the Milky Way.

Type
PART III: Dynamics and Evolution
Copyright
Copyright © Reidel 1985 

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