On the age distribution of Classical Cepheids in the Galaxy

10 Jun 2024  ·  Friedrich Anders, Chloé Padois, Marc Vilanova Sar, Marcin Semczuk, Marc del Alcázar-Julià, Francesca Figueras ·

We revisit the problem of the positive correlation between age and Galactocentric distance seen in Galactic Classical Cepheids, which at first sight is counter-intuitive in the context of inside-out galaxy formation. To explain it, we use the Besan\c{c}on Galaxy Model and a simulation of star particles in the Galactic disc coupled with stellar evolutionary models. We then select Classical Cepheids from this simulation and test in qualitative terms which ingredients are necessary to find agreement with the observational data. We show that the observed age vs. Galactocentric radius distribution in the Milky Way is a direct consequence of the disc's negative radial metallicity gradient (and, depending on the set of stellar models used, a metallicity dependence of the instability strip). The interplay of the metallicity gradient and the metallicity dependence of the Cepheids' life-time in the instability strip results in a pronounced positive age-Galactocentric distance relation. This renders a reconstruction of the recent star-formation history based on Classical Cepheids unlikely. It also has important consequences on our interpretation of the observed scatter about the radial metallicity gradient measured with Galactic Classical Cepheids.

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Astrophysics of Galaxies Solar and Stellar Astrophysics