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The Chemical Evolution of the Galaxy: the two-infall model

Abstract

In this paper we present a new chemical evolution model for the Galaxy which assumes two main infall episodes for the formation of halo-thick disk and thin disk, respectively. We do not try to take into account explicitly the evolution of the halo but we implicitly assume that the timescale for the formation of the halo was of the same order as the timescale for the formation of the thick disk. The formation of the thin-disk is much longer than that of the thick disk, implying that the infalling gas forming the thin-disk comes not only from the thick disk but mainly from the intergalactic medium. The timescale for the formation of the thin-disk is assumed to be a function of the galactocentric distance, leading to an inside-out picture for the Galaxy building. The model takes into account the most up to date nucleosynthesis prescriptions and adopts a threshold in the star formation process which naturally produces a hiatus in the star formation rate at the end of the thick disk phase, as suggested by recent observations. The model results are compared with an extended set of observational constraints. Among these constraints, the tightest one is the metallicity distribution of the G-dwarf stars for which new data are now available. Our model fits very well these new data. We show that in order to reproduce most of these constraints a timescale 1\le 1 Gyr for the (halo)-thick-disk and of 8 Gyr for the thin-disk formation in the solar vicinity are required. We predict that the radial abundance gradients in the inner regions of the disk (R<RR< R_{\odot}) are steeper than in the outer regions, a result confirmed by recent abundance determinations, and that the inner ones steepen in time during the Galactic lifetime.Comment: 48 pages, 20 Postscript figures, AASTex v.4.0, to be published in Astrophysical Journa

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