Physics and Astronomy
The Milky Way is composed of four major stellar populations: the thin disk, thick disk, bulge, and halo. At present, we do not know the age of any of these populations to better than one or two billion years. This lack of knowledge keeps us from answering fundamental questions about the Galaxy: When did the thin disk, thick disk, and halo form? Did they form over an extended period, and if so, how long? Was star formation continuous across these populations or instead occur in distinct episodes? The Gaia satellite is providing precise trigonometric parallaxes for a plethora of white dwarfs in each of these populations. We combine these parallaxes (and hence, distances) with photometry and analyze them using a modeling technique that relies on Bayesian statistics. This allows us to derive precise ages for individual white dwarfs and determine the age distribution and star formation history for each of the constituents of our Galaxy. Here we will present current progress in this endeavor, with emphasis on the ages of individual white dwarfs in the Hyades. Measuring the ages of individual white dwarfs in well-studied clusters provides proof of concept for our technique, as well exploration of any systematic offsets caused from timescales from main sequence models, as well as the initial-final mass relation.
Polytechnic State University, California
Number of Pages
Grant or Award Name
NSF grant AST-1715718
Scholarly Commons Citation
Hippel, T. v., Jeffery, E., Dyk, D. v., Stenning, D., Robinson, E., & Jefferys, W. (2019). Gaia, White Dwarfs, and the Age of the Galaxy. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/2045