EDP Sciences
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Volume 446, Number 2, February I 2006
Page(s) 569 - 577
Section Stellar structure and evolution
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20042170
A&A 446, 569-577 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20042170

On the horizontal branch of the galactic globular cluster NGC 2808

V. Castellani1, 2, G. Iannicola1, G. Bono1, M. Zoccali3, S. Cassisi4 and R. Buonanno5

1  INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma, via Frascati 33, 00040 Monte Porzio Catone, Italy
    e-mail: vittorio@mporzio.astro.it
2  INFN-Sezione di Ferrara, via Paradiso 12, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
3  Universidad Catolica de Chile, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, Casilla 306, Santiago 22, Chile
4  INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Teramo, via M. Maggini, 64100 Teramo, Italy
5  Dipartimento di Fisica, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, via della Ricerca Scientifica 1, 00133 Rome, Italy

(Received 13 October 2004 / Accepted 12 May 2005 )

We present new UV (F218W) data for stars in the central region of the Galactic globular cluster NGC 2808, collected with the WFPC2 camera on board the Hubble Space Telescope. These data together with F439W and F555W-band data and previous ground-based observations provide a multifrequency coverage of the cluster stellar population extending up to a distance of 1.7 times the cluster core radius. We discuss this complete sample of stars, which includes 764 Red Giant Branch (RGB) stars brighter than the Horizontal Branch (HB) luminosity level, 1239 HB stars, 119 Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB), and 22 AGB-manqué stellar structures. As already known, we find that blue HB stars separate into three distinct groups. However, our multiband photometry indicates that several stars in the two hotter HB groups show a flat spectrum, thus suggesting the binarity of these objects. Artificial star experiments suggest that at most 50% of them might be photometric blends. Moreover, at variance with previous claims one finds that canonical Zero Age Horizontal Branch (ZAHB) models do reach effective temperatures typical of observed hot HB stars. We also show that the ratio between HB and RGB stars brighter than the HB luminosity level steadly increases when moving from the cluster center to the periphery, passing from $R=1.37\pm0.14$ in the cluster core to $R=1.95\pm0.26$ in the outer cluster regions. We discuss the possible origin of such a radial gradient in the context of the Blue Tails phenomenon, advancing some suggestions concerning the clumpy stellar distribution along the HB.

Key words: globular clusters: individual: NGC 2808 -- stars: evolution -- stars: horizontal-branch -- global clusters: general

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