Context. The chemical abundances of stars encode information on their place and time of origin. Stars formed together in e.g. a cluster, should present chemical homogeneity. Also disk stars influenced by the effects of the bar and the spiral arms might have distinct chemical signatures depending on the type of orbit that they follow, e.g. from the inner versus outer regions of the Milky Way.
Aims. We explore the correlations between velocity and metallicity and the possible distinct chemical signatures of the velocity over-densities of the local Galactic neighbourhood.
Methods. We use the large spectroscopic survey RAVE and the Geneva Copenhagen Survey. We compare the metallicity distribution of regions in the velocity plane (vR,vφ) with that of their symmetric counterparts (-vR,vφ). We expect similar metallicity distributions if there are no tracers of a sub-population (e.g. a dispersed cluster, accreted stars), if the disk of the Galaxy is axisymmetric, and if the orbital effects of the bar and the spiral arms are weak.
Results. We find that the metallicity-velocity space of the solar neighbourhood is highly patterned. A large fraction of the velocity plane shows differences in the metallicity distribution when comparing symmetric vR regions. The typical differences in the median metallicity are of 0.05 dex with statistical significant of at least 95% confidence, and with values up to 0.6 dex. For stars with low azimuthal velocity vφ, the ones moving outwards. These include stars in the Hercules and Hyades moving groups and other velocity branch-like structures. For higher vφ, the stars moving inwards have higher metallicity than those moving outwards. We have also discovered a positive gradient in vφ with respect to metallicity at high metallicities, apart from the two known positive and negative gradients for the thick and thin disks.
Conclusions. The most likely interpretation of the metallicity asymmetry is that it is mainly due to the orbital effects of the Galactic bar and the radial metallicity gradient of the disk. We present a simulation that supports this idea.
Bibliographical noteCopyright 2017 ESO. First published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 601, A59, 2017, published by EDP Sciences. The original publication is available at https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201629387. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.
- Galaxy: abundances
- Galaxy: disk
- Galaxy: evolution
- Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
- Galaxy: structure