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We present an overview of recent key results from the SAMI Galaxy Survey on the build-up of mass and angular momentum in galaxies across morphology and environment. The SAMI Galaxy survey is a multi-object integral field spectroscopic survey and provides a wealth of spatially-resolved, two-dimensional stellar and gas measurements for galaxies of all morphological types, with high-precision due the stable spectral resolution of the AAOmega spectrograph. The sample size of ~3000 galaxies allows for dividing the sample in bins of stellar mass, environment, and star-formation or morphology, whilst maintaining a statistical significant number of galaxies in each bin. By combining imaging, spatially resolved dynamics, and stellar population measurements, our result demonstrate the power of utilising integral field spectroscopy on a large sample of galaxies to further our understanding of physical processes involved in the build-up of stellar mass and angular momentum in galaxies.
The Taipan galaxy survey (hereafter simply ‘Taipan’) is a multi-object spectroscopic survey starting in 2017 that will cover 2π steradians over the southern sky (δ ≲ 10°, |b| ≳ 10°), and obtain optical spectra for about two million galaxies out to z < 0.4. Taipan will use the newly refurbished 1.2-m UK Schmidt Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory with the new TAIPAN instrument, which includes an innovative ‘Starbugs’ positioning system capable of rapidly and simultaneously deploying up to 150 spectroscopic fibres (and up to 300 with a proposed upgrade) over the 6° diameter focal plane, and a purpose-built spectrograph operating in the range from 370 to 870 nm with resolving power R ≳ 2000. The main scientific goals of Taipan are (i) to measure the distance scale of the Universe (primarily governed by the local expansion rate, H0) to 1% precision, and the growth rate of structure to 5%; (ii) to make the most extensive map yet constructed of the total mass distribution and motions in the local Universe, using peculiar velocities based on improved Fundamental Plane distances, which will enable sensitive tests of gravitational physics; and (iii) to deliver a legacy sample of low-redshift galaxies as a unique laboratory for studying galaxy evolution as a function of dark matter halo and stellar mass and environment. The final survey, which will be completed within 5 yrs, will consist of a complete magnitude-limited sample (i ⩽ 17) of about 1.2 × 106 galaxies supplemented by an extension to higher redshifts and fainter magnitudes (i ⩽ 18.1) of a luminous red galaxy sample of about 0.8 × 106 galaxies. Observations and data processing will be carried out remotely and in a fully automated way, using a purpose-built automated ‘virtual observer’ software and an automated data reduction pipeline. The Taipan survey is deliberately designed to maximise its legacy value by complementing and enhancing current and planned surveys of the southern sky at wavelengths from the optical to the radio; it will become the primary redshift and optical spectroscopic reference catalogue for the local extragalactic Universe in the southern sky for the coming decade.
Research on the structure and dynamics of the Galactic System covers a large field of research, from formation scenarios to long-term evolution and secular processes. Today we speak of near-field cosmology where the oldest parts of the Galaxy are used to probe back to early times, e.g. studying the chemical signatures of the oldest star clusters and dwarf galaxies to learn about the byproducts of the first stars. Some of the most detailed work relates to the structure of the dark matter and baryons in order to compare with expectation from N-body models. Secular processes have been identified (e.g. stellar migration) where material within the Galaxy is being reorganized by dynamical resonances and feedback processes.
We present our recent measurement of the kinematics of the Milky Way stellar halo (Light Side) and the derived mass of the dark matter halo (Dark Side) using the Jeans analysis. A tangential dip in the velocity anisotropy profile at r ~ 17 kpc (Kafle et al. 2012), and a distinct difference of ~65 kms−1 in the mean azimuthal velocity and the r.m.s dispersion of the most metal-rich and the metal-poor Blue Horizontal Branch stars we find (Kafle et al. 2013) are reported. The implications of this on the current controversial issue of an existence of the two-components in the halo are also discussed.
Aided with the kinematic measurements of the light side, we demonstrate how we infer the dynamical property of the dark side. Considering a realistic three component galaxy model (Hernquist bulge, Miyamoto-Nagai disk and NFW halo), we estimate the virial mass of the Galaxy to be Mvir = 1.2+0.5−0.4 × 1012M⊙ (Kafle et al. 2012). We also show that the rotation curve of the Galaxy has undulations similar to what have also been seen in the studies of the HI gas (Sofue et al. 2009).
The TAURUS Tunable Filter (TTF) affords a new approach to observational cosmology, allowing a wide field (10 arcmin) to be imaged monochromatically in contiguous wavelength intervals (6–60 Å bandpass) over the R and I bands. In a 200 s exposure with the AAT, the TTF can detect Hα emission powered by star formation rates as low as 0·1 M⊙ yr−1 at z = 0·08 and 1 M⊙ yr−1 at z = 0·24 in 2 arcsec seeing (cf. 0·26 M⊙ yr−1 for the LMC). In this paper we describe an emission-line survey currently under way using the TTF on the AAT to detect redshifted Hα over the ranges z = 0·06–0·1 and z = 0·22–0·26. Such detections will be of timely interest to the Southern HI Sky Survey which is motivated along similar lines.
How did the Galactic disk form and can the sequence of events ever be unravelled from the vast stellar inventory? This will require that some of the residual inhomogeneities from prehistory escaped the dissipative process at an early stage. Fossil hunting to date has concentrated mostly on the stellar halo, but a key source of information will be the thick disk. This is believed to be a ‘snap frozen’ relic which formed during or shortly after the last major epoch of dissipation, or it may have formed from infalling systems early in the life of the Galaxy. As part of the KAOS Galaxy Genesis project, we explore the early history of the halo and the thick disk by looking for discrete substructures, either due to infall or in situ star formation, through chemical tagging. This will require high signal-to-noise echelle spectroscopy of up to a million stars throughout the disk. Our program has a short-term and a long-term goal.
The short-term goal is to quantify the size and structure of the multi-dimensional chemical abundance space (C-space) for all major components of the Galaxy. We seek to establish how many axes in (C-space) are decoupled and have large intrinsic dispersions. A critical test of chemical tagging in the short term is that stellar streams in the halo, identified from detailed phase space information, are highly localised in (C-space), or are confined to chemical tracks. These trajectories presuppose that stars form in a closed box through progressive enrichments of the gas, leading to stars dispersed along a narrow track in a complex chemical space. The long-term goal is to identify unique chemical signatures in the thick disk, originating from different formation sites, for star clusters which have long since dispersed. This will require precise chemical abundances for heavy elements such that a star can be localised to a discrete point in (C-space). If the star clusters originally formed outside the Galaxy in a bound infalling system, the stellar abundances may fall along a chemical track, rather than a discrete point in (C-space).
We briefly describe technical aspects and specifications of the new UKST Hα interference filter, which is probably the largest of its kind available in astronomy. Preliminary exposures show that the filter gives excellent imaging with high overall transmission and uniformity at Hα wavelengths. This is achieved over a circular area of about 305 mm diameter or about 5·7 degrees (the so called ‘clear aperture’). The prospects for the new UKST Hα survey of the southern Milky Way with this new filter are excellent.
The Taurus Tunable Filter (TTF) is a tunable narrowband interference filter covering wavelengths from 6300 Å to the sensitivity drop-off of conventional CCDs (∼9600 Å), although a blue ‘arm’ (4000–6500 Å) is to be added by the end of 1997. The TTF offers monochromatic imaging at the Cassegrain foci of both the Anglo-Australian and William Herschel Telescopes, with an adjustable passband of between 6 and 60 Å. In addition, frequency switching with the TTF can be synchronised with movement of charge (charge shuffling) on the CCD, which has important applications to many astrophysical problems. Here we review the different modes of TTF and suggest their use for follow-up narrowband imaging to the AAO/UKST Galactic Plane Hα Survey.
The ‘holy grail’ of exoplanet research today is the detection of an earth-like planet: a rocky planet in the habitable zone around a main-sequence star. Extremely precise Doppler spectroscopy is an indispensable tool to find and characterize earth-like planets; however, to find these planets around solar-type stars, we need nearly one order of magnitude better radial velocity (RV) precision than the best current spectrographs provide. Recent developments in astrophotonics (Bland-Hawthorn & Horton 2006, Bland-Hawthorn et al. 2010) and adaptive optics (AO) enable single mode fiber (SMF) fed, high resolution spectrographs, which can realize the next step in precision. SMF feeds have intrinsic advantages over multimode fiber or slit coupled spectrographs: The intensity distribution at the fiber exit is extremely stable, and as a result the line spread function of a well-designed spectrograph is fully decoupled from input coupling conditions, like guiding or seeing variations (Ihle et al. 2010). Modal noise, a limiting factor in current multimode fiber fed instruments (Baudrand & Walker 2001), can be eliminated by proper design, and the diffraction limited input to the spectrograph allows for very compact instrument designs, which provide excellent optomechanical stability. A SMF is the ideal interface for new, very precise wavelength calibrators, like laser frequency combs (Steinmetz et al. 2008, Osterman et al. 2012), or SMF based Fabry-Perot Etalons (Halverson et al. 2013). At near infrared wavelengths, these technologies are ready to be implemented in on-sky instruments, or already in use. We discuss a novel concept for such a spectrograph.
Research on the structure and dynamics of the Galactic System covers a large dynamic range of spatial scales and timescales and investigates the evolution of gas, stars and dark matter. Much recent activity, not just in Europe, has focused on preparing for the data from the upcoming ESA astrometric mission Gaia, scheduled for launch in 2013. Several ongoing (plus planned) wide-area ground-based surveys, both spectroscopic and photometric, are providing the necessary very large datasets for robust determination of the joint position-chemical-kinematic distribution functions of Galactic stellar populations. The time domain adds another dimension, the goal of ongoing and future massive photometric surveys (e.g. LSST). The dynamical evolution of disks has been the focus of much recent theoretical research, stimulated by the possibility of radial migration of stars and gas under transient dynamical perturbations.
Chemical features of the local disk have firmly established the picture for the formation of the Galactic disk that the star formation has proceeded under the continuous accretion of low-metallicity gas from the halo. It sets two determinant processes for the evolution of deuterium (D), that is, the destruction of D in the interior of stars and the supply of new (nearly) primordial D associated with the gas infall. Conventional Galactic chemical evolution (GCE) models predict that this scheme leads to a monotonic decrease in D/H with time and ends up in the present-day D/H abundance (D/H)0 which is severely lower than the recently observed estimates. These predicted features are the natural results of a construction of the metal-rich (~solar abundance) local star+gas system. Here we propose that the new GCE models, that incorporate large-scale winds form the Galactic bulge which entrain heavy elements and drop them on the disk with the recent tendency of star formation in tune with the observed implications, make the system rich in both metals and D. In addition, our finding of a gradual increase in D/H with time during the last several Gyr is observationally supported by the D/H abundance for the protosolar cloud lower than (D/H)0.
The structure of the outer parts of galactic disks and the nature of their stellar populations are fundamental to our understanding of the formation and evolution of spiral galaxies. Ages and metallicity distributions of stars in the outermost regions of spiral disks provide important clues on how and when the disks are assembled. In our earlier work we trace the extended stellar disk of NGC 300 out to a radius of at least 10 disk scale lengths, with no sign of truncation. We now revisit the outer disk of NGC 300 in order to derive the metallicity distribution of the faint stellar population in its outskirts. We find that predominantly old stellar population in the outer disk exhibits a negative abundance gradient – as predicted by the chemical evolution models – out to about 10 kpc, followed by the metallicity plateau in the outermost disk.
Comparison of elemental abundance features between old and young thin disk stars may reveal the action of ravaging winds from the Galactic bulge, which once enriched the whole disk, and set up the steep abundance gradient in the inner disk (RGC ≲ 10–;12 kpc) and simultaneously the metallicity floor ([Fe/H]~ −0.5) in the outer disk. After the end of a crucial influence by winds, chemical enrichment through accretion of a metal-poor material from the halo onto the disk gradually reduced the metallicity of the inner region, whereas an increase in the metallicity proceeded beyond a solar circle. This results in a flattening of abundance gradient in the inner disk, and our chemical evolution models confirm this mechanism for a flattening, which is in good agreement with the observations. Our scenario also naturally explains an observed break in the metallicity floor of the outer disk by young stars since the limit of self-enrichment in the outer disk is supposed to be [Fe/H]≲ −1 and inevitably incurs a direct influence of the dilution by a low-metal infall whose metallicity is [Fe/H]~ −1. Accordingly, we propose that the enrichment by large-scale winds is a crucial factor for chemical evolution of the disk, and claim to reconsider the models thus far for the disk including the solar neighborhood, in which the metallicity is predicted to monotonously increase with time. Furthermore, we anticipate that a flattening of abundance gradient together with a metal-rich floor in the outer disk are the hallmark of disk galaxies with significant central bulges.
Warps in the outer gaseous disks of galaxies are a ubiquitous phenomenon, but it is still unclear what generates them. One theory is that warps are generated internally through spontaneous bending instabilities. Other theories suggest that they result from the interaction of the outer disk with accreting extragalactic material. In this case, we expect to find cases where the circular velocity of the warp gas is poorly correlated with the rotational velocity of the galaxy disk at the same radius. Optical spectroscopy presents itself as an interesting alternative to 21-cm observations for testing this prediction, because (i) separating the kinematics of the warp from those of the disk requires a spatial resolution that is higher than what is achieved at 21 cm at low HI column density; (ii) optical spectroscopy also provides important information on star formation rates, gas excitation, and chemical abundances, which provide clues to the origin of the gas in warps. We present here preliminary results of a study of the kinematics of gas in the outer-disk warps of seven edge-on galaxies, using multi-hour VLT/FORS2 spectroscopy.
Several observing teams have now obtained deep Hα spectroscopy towards high-velocity clouds (HVCs) which vary in structure from compact (CHVCs) to the Magellanic Stream. Our team has observed clouds which range from being bright (~640 mR) to having upper limits on the order of 30 to 70 mR. The Hα measurements can be interpreted as a distance constraint if we adopt a halo ionization model based on fesc ≈ 6% of the ionizing photons escaping normal to the Galactic disk (fesc ≈ 1 − 2% when averaged over solid angle). The results suggest that many HVCs and CHVCs are within a ~40 kpc radius from the Galaxy and are not members of the Local Group at megaparsec distances. We refer the reader to Putman et al. (2003) for the full version of the paper presented here.
We present a study of the velocity profiles of the v=l-0 S(1) transition of molecular hydrogen (H2) towards the star forming region of OMC-1. A three dimensional data cube is presented which displays the spatial distribution as well as the velocity structure of the H2 emission. A brief description of the data acquisition, reduction and analysis is given.
The three dimensional aspect of the data has allowed us to re-examine the kinematic nature of the region. The results reveal a number of isolated sources which posses asymmetric velocity profiles which can be modelled by bow C-shocks. The implication is that these sources are compact knots of material which were involved in some explosive event, possibly associated with the luminous source IRc2, and are ploughing into the dense molecular disk around IRc2. It is likely that these bullets are associated with those discovered by Allen & Burton (1993).
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