Structure and kinematics of the stellar halos and thick disks of the milky way based on calibration stars from sloan digital sky survey DR7

Daniela Carollo, Timothy C. Beers, Masashi Chiba, John E. Norris, Ken C. Freeman, Young Sun Lee, Eljko Ivezić, Constance M. Rockosi, Brian Yanny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

375 Citations (Scopus)


The structure and kinematics of the recognized stellar components of the Milky Way are explored, based on well-determined atmospheric parameters and kinematic quantities for 32360 "calibration stars" from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and its first extension, SDSS-II, which included the sub-survey Sloan Extension for Galactic Understanding and Exploration (SEGUE). Full space motions for a sub-sample of 16,920 stars, exploring a local volume within 4kpc of the Sun, are used to derive velocity ellipsoids for the inner- and outer-halo components of the Galaxy, as well as for the canonical thick-disk and proposed metal-weak thick-disk (MWTD) populations. This new sample of calibration stars represents an increase of 60% relative to the numbers used in a previous analysis. We first examine the question of whether the data require the presence of at least a two-component halo in order to account for the rotational behavior of likely halo stars in the local volume, and whether more than two components are needed. We also address the question of whether the proposed MWTD is kinematically and chemically distinct from the canonical thick disk, and point out that the Galactocentric rotational velocity inferred for the MWTD, as well as its mean metallicity, appear quite similar to the values derived previously for the Monoceros stream, suggesting a possible association between these structures. In addition, we consider the fractions of each component required to understand the nature of the observed kinematic behavior of the stellar populations of the Galaxy as a function of distance from the plane. Scale lengths and scale heights for the thick-disk and MWTD components are determined. Spatial density profiles for the inner- and outer-halo populations are inferred from a Jeans theorem analysis. The full set of calibration stars (including those outside the local volume) is used to test for the expected changes in the observed stellar metallicity distribution function with distance above the Galactic plane in situ, due to the changing contributions from the underlying stellar populations. The above issues are considered, in concert with theoretical and observational constraints from other Milky-Way-like galaxies, in light of modern cold dark matter galaxy formation models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-727
Number of pages36
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • Galaxy: disk
  • Galaxy: formation
  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • Methods: data analysis
  • Stars: abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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