NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2004A-0360

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Proposal Information for 2004A-0360


PI: Steven R. Majewski, University of Virginia, srm4n@virginia.edu
Address: Dept. of Astronomy, P.O. Box 3818, Charlottesville, VA 22903-0818, USA

CoI: Verne V. Smith, University of Texas -- El Paso
CoI: Richard J. Patterson, University of Virginia
CoI: Doug Geisler, University of Concepcion
CoI: Dmitry Bizyaev, University of Texas - El Paso

Title: Chemically Fingerprinting the Milky Way's Accretion Past

Abstract: It has long been hoped that ``chemical fingerprinting'' could be used to help identify tidally stripped and captured stars moving through the Galactic field, and even determine the specific formation site of individual stars. This would be a particularly useful tool for dissecting the Galactic halo, which is now well known to contain tidal debris from disrupted satellite galaxies and clusters. The recent discovery (Majewski et al. 2003a, ``MSWO'') that the leading tidal arm of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy wraps into the solar neighborhood presents a unique opportunity to (1) test the notion of chemical fingerprinting on a well-defined, reliable sample of \it bright, nearby, likely accreted halo stars, (2) make use of the intrinsically bright M giant Sgr candidates identified by MSWO to take this chemical abundance work well out into the halo, and (3) use this chemical fingerprinting to not only refine our knowledge of the Sgr and other recently discovered tidal debris systems, but resolve several recently discovered puzzles regarding intertwining, local debris streams This project would be one of the first to attempt to pro-actively apply ``chemical tagging'' to exploration of tidal debris in the Galactic halo, as anticipated, e.g., by the discussion in the review of Milky Way astronomy by Freeman & Bland-Hawthorn (2002).


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