EDP Sciences
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Volume 435, Number 3, June I 2005
Page(s) 987 - 993
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041773

A&A 435, 987-993 (2005)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041773

Helium self-enrichment in globular clusters and the second parameter problem in M 3 and M 13

V. Caloi1 and F. D'Antona2

1  Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, INAF, Roma
    e-mail: vittoria.caloi@rm.iasf.cnr.it
2  INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
    e-mail: dantona@mporzio.astro.it

(Received 2 August 2004 / Accepted 3 February 2005)

Inspection of the CM diagrams of globular clusters having similar heavy element content shows that the luminosity of the red giant bump relative to the turnoff ( $\Delta V_{\rm TO}^{\rm bump}$) differs by more than 0.1 mag between clusters with different horizontal branch morphology. Unfortunately, careful consideration of the data leaves us with only one pair (M 3 and M 13) of clusters suitable for a quantitative discussion. For this pair we consider differences in age and helium content as possible causes for the difference in $\Delta V_{\rm TO}^{\rm bump}$, and find more convincing support for the latter. A larger helium content in M 13 stars ( $Y \sim 0.28$ vs. $Y \sim 0.24$) accounts for various CM diagram features, such as the difference in the luminosity level of RR Lyr variables and of the red giant bump with respect to the turnoff luminosity and the horizontal branch morphology. This enhanced helium can be tentatively understood in the framework of self-enrichment by massive asymptotic giant branch stars in the first ~100 Myr of the cluster life. A modest self-enrichment can be present also in M 3 and can be the reason for the still unexplained presence of a not negligible number of luminous, Oosterhoff II type RR Lyr variables. The hypothesis that a larger helium content is the second parameter for clusters with very blue horizontal branch morphology could be checked by an accurate set of data for more clusters giving turnoff, RR Lyrs and bump magnitudes within a unique photometry.

Key words: Galaxy: globular clusters: general -- stars: horizontal-branch -- Galaxy: globular clusters: individual: M 3 -- Galaxy: globular clusters: individual: M 13 -- stars: Hertzsprung-Russell (HR) and C-M

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