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Digging for Relics of the Past: The Ancient and Obscured Bulge Globular Cluster NGC 6256

Cadelano, M, Saracino, S, Dalessandro, E, Ferraro, FR, Lanzoni, B, Massari, D, Pallanca, C and Salaris, M (2020) Digging for Relics of the Past: The Ancient and Obscured Bulge Globular Cluster NGC 6256. Astrophysical Journal, 895 (1). ISSN 0004-637X

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Abstract

We used a set of moderately deep and high-resolution optical observations obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope to investigate the properties of the stellar population in the heavily obscured bulge globular cluster (GC) NGC 6256. The analysis of the color–magnitude diagram (CMD) revealed a stellar population with an extended blue horizontal branch severely affected by differential reddening, which was corrected, taking into account color excess variations up to δE(B − V) ~ 0.51. We implemented a Monte Carlo Markov Chain technique to perform the isochrone fitting of the observed CMD in order to derive the stellar age, the cluster distance, and the average color excess in the cluster direction. Using three different sets of isochrones we found that NGC 6256 is characterized by a very old stellar age around 13.0 Gyr, with a typical uncertainty of ~0.5 Gyr. We also found an average color excess of E(B − V) = 1.19 and a distance from the Sun of 6.8 kpc. We then derived the cluster gravitational center and measured its absolute proper motion using the Gaia-DR2 catalog. All this was used to back-integrate the cluster orbit in a Galaxy-like potential and measure its integrals of motion. It turned out that NGC 6256 is currently in a low-eccentricity orbit entirely confined within the bulge and its integrals of motion are fully compatible with a cluster purely belonging to the Galaxy native GC population. All these pieces of evidence suggest that NGC 6256 is an extremely old relic of the past history of the Galaxy, formed during the very first stages of its assembly.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences, 0202 Atomic, Molecular, Nuclear, Particle and Plasma Physics, 0306 Physical Chemistry (incl. Structural)
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: American Astronomical Society; IOP Publishing
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 26 Jun 2020 10:29
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2020 10:30
DOI or Identification number: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab88b3
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13193

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