Co-formation of the thin and thick discs revealed by APOGEE-DR16 and Gaia-DR2

Beraldo E silva, Leandro orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0740-1507, Debattista, Victor P orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-7902-0116, Nidever, David, Amarante, Joao A. S. and Garver, Bethany (2021) Co-formation of the thin and thick discs revealed by APOGEE-DR16 and Gaia-DR2. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 502 (1). pp. 260-272. ISSN 0035-8711

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Since thin disc stars are younger than thick disc stars on average, some Galaxy formation models predict that the thin disc started forming only after the thick disc had formed, around 10 Gyr ago. Accordingly, no significant old thin disc population should exist. Using 6-D coordinates from Gaia-DR2 and age estimates from Sanders \& Das (2018), we select ∼24000 old stars (τ>10 Gyr, with uncertainties ≲15%) within 2 kpc from the Sun. A cross-match with APOGEE-DR16 reveals comparable fractions of old thin/thick disc stars. We show that the sample pericenter radius (rper) distribution has three peaks, one associated with the stellar halo and the other two having contributions from the thin/thick discs. Using a high-resolution N-body+Smooth Particle Hydrodynamics simulation, we demonstrate that one peak, at rper≈7.1 kpc, is produced by stars from both discs which were born in the inner Galaxy and migrated to the Solar Neighbourhood. We estimate that, in the Solar Neighbourhood, ∼1/2 (∼1/3) of the old thin (thick) disc stars can be classified as migrators. Our results suggest that thin/thick discs are affected differently by radial migration inasmuch as they have different eccentricity distributions, regardless of vertical scale heights. Finally, we interpret the existence of a significant old thin disc population as evidence for an early co-formation of thin/thick discs, arguing that clump instabilities in the early disc offer a compelling explanation for the observed trends.

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