ArXiv:1507.08066 by G. Kordopatis et al: We investigate, using the Gaia-ESO Survey internal Data-Release 2, the properties of the double sequence of the Milky Way discs (defined chemically as the high-alpha and low-alpha populations), and discuss their compatibility with discs defined by other means such as metallicity, kinematics or positions.
This investigation uses two different approaches: in velocity space for stars located in the extended Solar neighbourhood, and in chemical space for stars at different ranges of Galactocentric radii and heights from the plane. The separation we find in velocity space allows us to investigate, in a novel manner, the extent in metallicity of each of the two sequences, identifying them with the two discs, without making any assumption about the shape of their metallicity distribution functions. Then, using the separation in chemical space, we characterise the spatial variation of the slopes of the [alpha/Fe] - [Fe/H] sequences for the thick and thin discs and the way in which the relative proportions of the two discs change across the Galaxy. We find that the thick disc (high-alpha sequence), extends up to [Fe/H]~ +0.2 and the thin disc (low-alpha sequence), at least down to [Fe/H]~ -0.8. Radial and vertical gradients in alpha-abundances are found for the thin disc, with mild spatial variations in its [alpha/Fe] - [Fe/H] paths, whereas for the thick disc we do not detect any such spatial variations.
The small variations in the spatial [alpha/Fe] - [Fe/H] paths of the thin disc do not allow us to distinguish between formation models of this structure. On the other hand, the lack of radial gradients and [alpha/Fe] - [Fe/H] variations for the thick disc indicate that the mechanism responsible for the mixing of the metals in the young Galaxy (e.g. radial stellar migration or turbulent gaseous disc) was more efficient before the (present) thin disc started forming.