The best and brightest metal-poor stars

Kevin C Schlaufman, Andrew R. Casey

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63 Citations (Scopus)


The chemical abundances of large samples of extremely metal-poor (EMP) stars can be used to investigate metal-free stellar populations, supernovae, and nucleosynthesis as well as the formation and galactic chemical evolution of the Milky Way and its progenitor halos. However, current progress on the study of EMP stars is being limited by their faint apparent magnitudes. The acquisition of high signal-to-noise spectra for faint EMP stars requires a major telescope time commitment, making the construction of large samples of EMP star abundances prohibitively expensive. We have developed a new, efficient selection that uses only public, all-sky APASS optical, 2MASS near-infrared, and WISE mid-infrared photometry to identify bright metal-poor star candidates through their lack of molecular absorption near 4.6 microns. We have used our selection to identify 11,916 metal-poor star candidates with V < 14, increasing the number of publicly available candidates by more than a factor of five in thismagnitude range. Their bright apparent magnitudes have greatly eased high-resolution follow-up observations that have identified seven previously unknown stars with [Fe/H] ≲ -3.0. Our follow-up campaign has revealed that 3.8-1.1+1.3% of our candidates have [Fe/H] ≲ -3.0 and 32.5-2.9+3.0% have -3.0 ≲ [Fe/H] ≲ -2.0. The bulge is the most likely location of any existing Galactic Population III stars, and an infrared-only variant of our selection is well suited to the identification of metal-poor stars in the bulge. Indeed, two of our confirmed metal-poor stars with [Fe/H] ≲ -2.7 are within about 2 kpc of the Galactic center. They are among the most metal-poor stars known in the bulge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
Number of pages11
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxy: bulge
  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: stellar content
  • Infrared: stars
  • Stars: population II
  • Stars: statistics

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