Special Reviews

The Baryon Halo of the Milky Way: A Fossil Record of Its Formation

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Science  07 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5450, pp. 79-84
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5450.79

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Astronomers believe that the baryon (stellar) halo of the Milky Way retains a fossil imprint of how it was formed. But a vast literature shows that the struggle to interpret the observations within a consistent framework continues. The evidence indicates that the halo has built up through a process of accretion and merging over billions of years, which is still going on at a low level. Future satellite missions to derive three-dimensional space motions and heavy element (metal) abundances for a billion stars will disentangle the existing web and elucidate how galaxies like our own came into existence.

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