Constraints on the formation of the galactic bulge from Na, Al, and heavy-element abundances in Plaut's field.

Christian I. Johnson, R. Michael Rich, Chiaki Kobayashi, Jon P. Fulbright

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We report chemical abundances of Na, Al, Zr, La, Nd, and Eu for 39 red giant branch (RGB) stars and 23 potential inner disk red clump stars located in Plaut's low-extinction window. We also measure lithium for a super Li-rich RGB star. The abundances were determined by spectrum synthesis of high-resolution (R approximate to 25,000), high signal-to-noise (S/N similar to 50-100 pixel(-1)) spectra obtained with the Blanco 4 m telescope and Hydra multifiber spectrograph. For the bulge RGB stars, we find a general increase in the [Na/Fe] and [Na/Al] ratios with increasing metallicity, and a similar decrease in [La/Fe] and [Nd/Fe]. Additionally, the [Al/Fe] and [Eu/Fe] abundance trends almost identically follow those of the alpha-elements, and the [Zr/Fe] ratios exhibit relatively little change with [Fe/H]. The consistently low [La/Eu] ratios of the RGB stars indicate that at least a majority of bulge stars formed rapidly (less than or similar to 1 Gyr) and before the main s-process could become a significant pollution source. In contrast, we find that the potential inner disk clump stars exhibit abundance patterns more similar to those of the thin and thick disks. Comparisons between the abundance trends at different bulge locations suggest that the inner and outer bulges formed on similar timescales. However, we find evidence of some abundance differences between the most metal-poor and metal-rich stars in various bulge fields. The data also indicate that the halo may have had a more significant impact on the outer bulge initial composition than the inner bulge composition. The [Na/Fe], and to a lesser extent [La/Fe], abundances further indicate that the metal-poor bulge, at least at similar to 1 kpc from the Galactic center, and thick disk may not share an identical chemistry.

Original languageEnglish
Article number175
Number of pages26
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2012


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