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Astron. Astrophys. 358, 850-868 (2000)

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Chemical enrichment and star formation in the Milky Way disk

I. Sample description and chromospheric age-metallicity relation

H.J. Rocha-Pinto 1, W.J. Maciel 1, J. Scalo 2 and C. Flynn 3

1 Instituto Astronômico e Geofísico, Universidade de São Paulo, Av. Miguel Stefano 4200, 04301-904 São Paulo SP, Brazil (helio,maciel@iagusp.usp.br)
2 Department of Astronomy, The University of Texas at Austin, USA (parrot@astro.as.utexas.edu)
3 Tuorla Observatory, Väisäläntie 20, 21500, Piikkiö, Finland (cflynn@astro.utu.fi)

Received 6 January 2000 / Accepted 13 April 2000


The age-metallicity relation of the solar neighbourhood is studied using a sample of 552 late-type dwarfs. This sample was built from the intersection of photometric catalogues with chromospheric activity surveys of the Mount Wilson group. For these stars, metallicities were estimated from uvby data, and ages were calculated from their chromospheric emission levels using a new metallicity-dependent chromospheric activity-age relation developed by Rocha-Pinto & Maciel (1998). A careful estimate of the errors in the chromospheric age is made. The errors in the chromospheric indices are shown to include partially the effects of the stellar magnetic cycles, although a detailed treatment of this error is still beyond our knowledge. It is shown that the results are not affected by the presence of unresolved binaries in the sample. We derive an age-metallicity relation which confirms the mean trend found by previous workers. The mean metallicity shows a slow, steady increase with time, amounting at least 0.56 dex in 15 Gyr. The initial metallicity of the disk is around -0.70 dex, in agreement with the G dwarf metallicity distribution (Rocha-Pinto & Maciel 1996). According to our data, the intrinsic cosmic dispersion in metal abundances is around 0.13 dex , a factor of two smaller than that found by Edvardsson et al. (1993). We show that chromospheric ages are compatible with isochrone ages, within the expected errors, so that the difference in the scatter cannot be caused by the accuracy of our ages and metallicities. This reinforces some suggestions that the Edvarsson et al.'s sample is not suitable to the determination of the age-metallicity relation.

Key words: stars: chromospheres – stars: late-type – Galaxy: evolution – Galaxy: solar neighbourhood

Send offprint requests to: H.J. Rocha-Pinto

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: June 20, 2000