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Wilson M.L.,University of Western States | Helmi A.,NOVA Kapteyn Astronomical Institute | Morrison H.L.,University of Western States | Breddels M.A.,NOVA Kapteyn Astronomical Institute | And 23 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

We study the eccentricity distribution of a thick-disc sample of stars (defined as those withVy > 50kms-1and1 < |z|/kpc < 3) observed in the Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE). We compare this distribution with those obtained in four simulations of galaxy formation taken from the literature as compiled by Sales et al. Each simulation emphasizes different scenarios for the origin of such stars (satellite accretion, heating of a pre-existing thin disc during a merger, radial migration, and gas-rich mergers). We find that the observed distribution peaks at low eccentricities and falls off smoothly and rather steeply to high eccentricities. This finding is fairly robust to changes in distances and to plausible assumptions about thin-disc contamination. Our results favour models where the majority of stars formed in the Galaxy itself on orbits of modest eccentricity and disfavour the pure satellite accretion case. A gas-rich merger origin where most of the stars form 'in situ' appears to be the most consistent with our data. © 2011 The Authors. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

Siebert A.,University of Strasbourg | Famaey B.,University of Strasbourg | Minchev I.,University of Strasbourg | Seabroke G.M.,University College London | And 22 more authors.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2011

Using a sample of 213713 stars from the Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) survey, limited to a distance of 2kpc from the Sun and to |z| < 1kpc, we report the detection of a velocity gradient of disc stars in the fourth quadrant, directed radially from the Galactic Centre. In the direction of the Galactic Centre, we apply a simple method independent of stellar proper motions and of Galactic parameters to assess the existence of this gradient in the RAVE data. This velocity gradient corresponds to |K+C| > rsim 3 km s-1 kpc-1, where K and C are the Oort constants measuring the local divergence and radial shear of the velocity field, respectively. In order to illustrate the effect, assuming a zero radial velocity of the local standard of rest we then reconstruct the two-dimensional Galactocentric velocity maps using two different sets of proper motions and photometric distances based either on isochrone fitting or on K-band magnitudes, and considering two sets of values for the Galactocentric radius of the Sun and local circular speed. Further observational confirmation of our finding with line-of-sight velocities of stars at low latitudes, together with further modelling, should help constrain the non-axisymmetric components of the Galactic potential, including the bar, the spiral arms and possibly the ellipticity of the dark halo. © 2011 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2011 RAS.

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