A Blueprint for the Milky Way's Stellar Populations. IV. A String of Pearls-the Galactic Starburst Sequence

An, Deokkeun; Beers, Timothy C.; Lee, Young Sun; Masseron, Thomas
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The Astrophysical Journal

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We continue our series of papers on phase-space distributions of stars in the Milky Way based on photometrically derived metallicities and Gaia astrometry, with a focus on the halo-disk interface in the local volume. To exploit various photometric databases, we develop a method of empirically calibrating synthetic stellar spectra based on a comparison with observations of stellar sequences and individual stars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the SkyMapper Sky Survey, and the Pan-STARRS1 surveys, overcoming band-specific corrections employed in our previous work. In addition, photometric zero-point corrections are derived to provide an internally consistent photometric system with a spatially uniform metallicity zero-point. Using our phase-space diagrams, we find a remarkably narrow sequence in the rotational velocity (v ϕ ) versus metallicity ([Fe/H]) space for a sample of high proper-motion stars (>25 mas yr-1), which runs along Gaia Sausage/Enceladus (GSE) and the Splash substructures and is linked to the disk, spanning nearly 2 dex in [Fe/H]. Notably, a rapid increase of v ϕ from a nearly zero net rotation to ~180 km s-1 in a narrow metallicity interval (-0.6 ≲ [Fe/H] ≲ -0.4) suggests that some of these stars emerged quickly on a short gas-depletion timescale. Through measurements of a scale height and length, we argue that these stars are distinct from those heated dynamically by mergers. This chain of high proper-motion stars provides additional support for recent discoveries suggesting that a starburst took place when the young Milky Way encountered the gas-rich GSE progenitor, which eventually led to the settling of metal-enriched gas onto the disk.