High-Resolution Spectroscopy of Extremely Metal-Poor Stars in the Least Evolved Galaxies: Leo IV

Research paper by Joshua D. Simon, Anna Frebel, Andrew McWilliam, Evan N. Kirby, Ian B. Thompson

Indexed on: 19 Apr '10Published on: 19 Apr '10Published in: arXiv - Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies


We present high-resolution Magellan/MIKE spectroscopy of the brightest star in the ultra-faint dwarf galaxy Leo IV. We measure an iron abundance of [Fe/H] = -3.2, adding to the rapidly growing sample of extremely metal-poor stars being identified in Milky Way satellite galaxies. The star is enhanced in the alpha elements Mg, Ca, and Ti by ~0.3 dex, very similar to the typical Milky Way halo abundance pattern. All of the light and iron-peak elements follow the trends established by extremely metal-poor halo stars, but the neutron-capture elements Ba and Sr are significantly underabundant. These results are quite similar to those found for stars in the ultra-faint dwarfs Ursa Major II, Coma Berenices, Bootes I, and Hercules, suggesting that the chemical evolution of the lowest luminosity galaxies may be universal. The abundance pattern we observe is consistent with predictions for nucleosynthesis from a Population III supernova explosion. The extremely low metallicity of this star also supports the idea that a significant fraction (>10%) of the stars in the faintest dwarfs have metallicities below [Fe/H] = -3.0.