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Confirmation of a metallicity spread amongst first population stars in globular clusters

Lardo, C, Salaris, M, Cassisi, S and Bastian, N (2022) Confirmation of a metallicity spread amongst first population stars in globular clusters. Astronomy and Astrophysics, 662. ISSN 0004-6361

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/202243843 (Published version)


Stars in massive star clusters exhibit intrinsic variations in some light elements (the multiple populations phenomenon) that are difficult to explain in a fully coherent formation scenario. In recent years, high quality Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photometry has led to the characterisation of the global properties of these multiple populations in an unparalleled level of detail. In particular, the colour-(pseudo)colour diagrams known as chromosome mapsahave been proven to be very efficient at separating cluster stars with a field-like metal abundance distribution (first population) from an object with distinctive light-element abundance anti-correlations (second population). The unexpected wide colour ranges covered by the first population group-Traditionally considered to have a uniform chemical composition-in the chromosome maps of the majority of the investigated Galactic globular clusters have recently been attributed to intrinsic metallicity variations up to-0.30 dex from the study of subgiant branch stars in two metal-rich Galactic globular clusters by employing appropriate HST filter combinations. On the other hand, high-resolution spectroscopy of small samples of first populations stars in the globular clusters NGC 3201 and NGC 2808-both displaying extended sequences of first population stars in their chromosome maps-have provided conflicting results thus far, with a spread of metal abundance detected in NGC 3201 but not in NGC 2808. We present here a new method that employs HST near-UV and optical photometry of red giant branch stars to confirm these recent results independently. Our approach was firstly validated using observational data for M 2, a globular cluster hosting a small group of first population stars with an enhanced (by 0.5 dex) metallicity with respect to the main component. We then applied our method to three clusters that cover a much larger metallicity range and that have well populated, extended first population sequences in their chromosome maps, namely M 92, NGC 2808, and NGC 6362. We confirm that metallicity spreads are present among first population stars in these clusters, thus solidifying the case for the existence of unexpected variations up to a factor of two of metal abundances in most globular clusters. We also confirm the complex behaviour of the mean metallicity (and metallicity range) differences between first and second population stars.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences; Astronomy & Astrophysics
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: EDP Sciences
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2022 10:36
Last Modified: 22 Jul 2022 10:45
DOI or ID number: 10.1051/0004-6361/202243843
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17260
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