Untangling the Galaxy. I. Local structure and star formation history of the Milky Way.
KOUNKEL M. and COVEY K.
Abstract (from CDS):
Gaia DR2 provides unprecedented precision in measurements of the distance and kinematics of stars in the solar neighborhood. Through applying unsupervised machine learning on DR2's 5D data set (3D position + 2D velocity), we identify a number of clusters, associations, and comoving groups within 1 kpc and | b| < 30○ (many of which have not been previously known). We estimate their ages with the precision of ∼0.15 dex. Many of these groups appear to be filamentary or string-like, oriented in parallel to the Galactic plane, and some span hundreds of parsec in length. Most of these string lack a central cluster, indicating that their filamentary structure is primordial, rather than the result of tidal stripping or dynamical processing. The youngest strings (<100 Myr) are orthogonal to the Local Arm. The older ones appear to be remnants of several other arm-like structures that cannot be presently traced by dust and gas. The velocity dispersion measured from the ensemble of groups and strings increase with age, suggesting a timescale for dynamical heating of ∼300 Myr. This timescale is also consistent with the age at which the population of strings begins to decline, while the population in more compact groups continues to increase, suggesting that dynamical processes are disrupting the weakly bound string populations, leaving only individual clusters to be identified at the oldest ages. These data shed a new light on the local galactic structure and a large-scale cloud collapse.