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Constraints on the age and evolution of the Galaxy from the white dwarf luminosity function
Wood, M. A.
AA(Texas, University, Austin; Montreal, Universite, Montreal, Canada)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 386, Feb. 20, 1992, p. 539-561. Research supported by NASA and NATO. (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Galactic Evolution, Milky Way Galaxy, Stellar Luminosity, White Dwarf Stars, Computational Astrophysics, Numerical Analysis, Star Formation, Statistical Analysis, Stellar Mass
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The white dwarf disk luminosity function is explored using observational results of Liebert et al. (1988, 1989) as a template for comparison, and the cooling curves of Wood (1990, 1991) as the input basis functions for the integration. The star formation rate over the history of the Galaxy is found to be constant to within an order of magnitude, and the disk age lies in the range 6-13.5 Gyr, where roughly 40 percent of the uncertainty is due to the observational uncertainties. Using the best current estimates as inputs to the integration, the disk ages range from 7.5 to 11 Gyr, i.e., they are substantially younger than most estimates for the halo globular clusters but in reasonable agreement with those for the disk globular clusters and open clusters. The ages of these differing populations, taken together, are consistent with the pressure-supported collapse models of early spiral Galactic evolution.

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