EDP Sciences
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Volume 374, Number 2, August I 2001
Page(s) 540 - 553
Section Stellar clusters and associations
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20010757

A&A 374, 540-553 (2001)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20010757

The helium content and age of the Hyades:

Constraints from five binary systems and Hipparcos parallaxes
Y. Lebreton1, J. Fernandes2 and T. Lejeune2

1  DASGAL, CNRS UMR 8633, Observatoire de Paris, Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
2  Observatório Astronómico da Universidade de Coimbra, 3040 Coimbra, Portugal

(Received 4 April 2001 / Accepted 17 May 2001 )

We compare the accurate empirical mass-luminosity (M-L) relation based on five Hyades binary systems to predictions of stellar models calculated with various input parameters (helium, metallicity and age) or physics (mixing-length ratio, model atmosphere, equation of state and microscopic diffusion). Models based on a helium content $Y\sim 0.28$ inferred from the $\Delta Y/\Delta Z$ enrichment law are more than 3$\sigma$ beyond the observations, suggesting that the Hyades initial helium abundance is lower than expected from its supersolar metallicity. With the photometric metallicity ( [Fe/H] = $0.144\pm 0.013$ dex, Grenon 2000) we derive $Y=0.255\pm0.009$. Because of the (Y, [Fe/H] degeneracy in the M-L plane, the uncertainty grows to $\Delta Y=0.013$ if the metallicity from spectroscopy is adopted ( [Fe/H] = $0.14\pm0.05$ dex, Cayrel de Strobel et al. 1997). We use these results to discuss the Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) diagram of the Hyades, in the (MV, B-V) plane, based on the very precise Hipparcos dynamical parallaxes. Present models fit the tight observed sequence very well except at low temperatures. We show that the HR diagram does not bring further constraints on the helium abundance or metallicity of the cluster. In the low mass region of the HR diagram sensitive to the mixing-length parameter ( ${\alpha_\mathrm{MLT}}$), the slope of the main sequence (MS) suggests that ${\alpha_\mathrm{MLT}}$ could decrease from a solar (or even supersolar) value at higher mass to subsolar values at low mass, which is also supported by the modeling of the vB22 M-L relation. We find that the discrepancy at low temperatures ((B-V) $\ga 1.2$) remains, even if an improved equation of state or better model atmospheres are used. Finally, we discuss the positions of the stars at turn-off in the light of their observed rotation rates and we deduce that the maximum age of the Hyades predicted by the present models is ~650 Myr.

Key words: open clusters and associations: Hyades -- stars: fundamental parameters -- stars: interiors -- stars: Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) and C-M diagram -- stars: individual: vB22, $\theta^2$ Tau -- stars: rotation

Offprint request: Y. Lebreton, Yveline.Lebreton@obspm.fr

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