Unveiling the time evolution of chemical abundances across the Milky Way disc with APOGEE

Bridget Ratcliffe, Ivan Minchev, Friedrich Anders, Sergey Khoperskov, Guillaume Guiglion, Tobias Buck, Katia Cunha, Anna Queiroz, Christian Nitschelm, Szabolcs Meszaros, Matthias Steinmetz, Roelof S. De Jong, Samir Nepal, Richard R. Lane, Jennifer Sobeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Chemical abundances are an essential tool in untangling the Milky Way's enrichment history. However, the evolution of the interstellar medium abundance gradient with cosmic time is lost as a result of radial mixing processes. For the first time, we quantify the evolution of many observational abundances across the Galactic disc as a function of lookback time and birth radius,. Using an empirical approach, we derive estimates for 145 447 APOGEE DR17 red giant disc stars, based solely on their ages and. We explore the detailed evolution of six abundances [Mg, Ca (α), Mn (iron-peak), Al, C (light), Ce (s-process)] across the Milky Way disc using 87 426 APOGEE DR17 red giant stars. We discover that the interstellar medium had three fluctuations in the metallicity gradient ∼9, ∼6, and ∼4 Gyr ago. The first coincides with the end of high-α sequence formation around the time of the Gaia-Sausage-Enceladus disruption, while the others are likely related to passages of the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. A clear distinction is found between present-day observed radial gradients with age and the evolution with lookback time for both [X/Fe] and [X/H], resulting from the significant flattening and inversion in old populations due to radial migration. We find the - bimodality is also seen as a separation in the - plane for the light and α-elements. Our results recover the chemical enrichment of the Galactic disc over the past 12 Gyr, providing tight constraints on Galactic disc chemical evolution models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2208-2228
Number of pages21
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • Galaxy: abundances
  • Galaxy: disc
  • Galaxy: evolution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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