The Global Structure of the Milky Way's Stellar Halo Based on the Orbits of Local Metal-poor Stars

Genta Sato, Masashi Chiba

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3 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze the global structure of the Milky Way (MW)'s stellar halo, including its dominant subcomponent, Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus (GSE). The method for reconstructing the global distribution of this old stellar component is to employ the superposition of the orbits covering the large MW's space, where each of the orbit-weighting factors is assigned following the probability that the star is located at its currently observed position. The selected local, metal-poor sample with [Fe/H] <-1, using Gaia Early Data Release 3 and Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 16, shows that the global shape of the halo is systematically rounder at all radii in more metal-poor ranges, such that an axial ratio, q, is nearly 1 for [Fe/H] <-2.2 and ∼0.7 for -1.4 < [Fe/H] < -1.0. It is also found that a halo in the relatively metal-rich range of [Fe/H] >-1.8 actually shows a boxy/peanut-like shape, suggesting a major merger event. The distribution of azimuthal velocities shows a disk-like flattened structure at -1.4 < [Fe/H] < -1.0, which is thought to be the metal-weak thick disk. For the subsample of stars showing GSE-like kinematics, at [Fe/H] >-1.8, its global density distribution has an axis ratio of 0.9, which is more spherical than the general halo sample, and an outer ridge at r ∼ 20 kpc. This spherical shape is consistent with the features of accreted halo components, and the ridge suggests that the orbit of GSE's progenitor had an apocenter of ∼20 kpc. Implications for the formation of the stellar halo are also presented.

Original languageEnglish
Article number145
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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