Hunting the parent of the orphan stream. II. the first high-resolution spectroscopic study

Andrew R. Casey, Stefan Claude Keller, Gary Da Costa, Anna Frebel, Elizabeth Maunder

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We present the first high-resolution spectroscopic study on the Orphan stream for five stream candidates, observed with the Magellan Inamori Kyocera Echelle spectrograph on the Magellan Clay telescope. The targets were selected from the low-resolution catalog of Casey et al.: three high-probability members, one medium, and one low-probability stream candidate were observed. Our analysis indicates that the low- and medium-probability targets are metal-rich field stars. The remaining three high-probability targets range over ∼1 dex in metallicity, and are chemically distinct compared to the other two targets and all standard stars: low [α/Fe] abundance ratios are observed, and lower limits are ascertained for [Ba/Y], which sit well above the Milky Way trend. These chemical signatures demonstrate that the undiscovered parent system is unequivocally a dwarf spheroidal galaxy, consistent with dynamical constraints inferred from the stream width and arc. As such, we firmly exclude the proposed association between NGC 2419 and the Orphan stream. A wide range in metallicities adds to the similarities between the Orphan stream and Segue 1, although the low [α/Fe] abundance ratios in the Orphan stream are in tension with the high [α/Fe] values observed in Segue 1. Open questions remain before Segue 1 could possibly be claimed as the "parent" of the Orphan stream. The parent system could well remain undiscovered in the southern sky.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Number of pages14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: structure
  • stars: abundances
  • stars: late-type
  • stars: Population II

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