EDP Sciences
Free access
Issue
A&A
Volume 448, Number 2, March III 2006
Page(s) L37 - L41
Section Letters
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:200600012
A&A 448, L37-L41 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:200600012

Letter

On the origin of the high helium sequence in $\mathsf{\omega}$ Centauri

A. Maeder and G. Meynet

Geneva Observatory, 1290 Sauverny, Switzerland
    e-mail: [andre.maeder;georges.meynet]@obs.unige.ch

(Received 19 December 2005 / Accepted 21 January 2006 )

Abstract
The blue Main Sequence (bMS) of $\omega$ Cen implies a ratio of helium to metal enrichment  $\Delta Y/\Delta Z \approx 70$, which is a major enigma. We show that rotating models of low metallicity stars, which account for the anomalous abundance ratios of extremely metal poor stars, are also useful for understanding the very high $\Delta Y/\Delta Z$ ratio in $\omega$ Cen. Models of massive stars with moderate initial rotation velocities produce stellar winds with large He- and N-excesses, but without the large C- (and O-) excesses made by very fast rotation, in agreement with the observed chemical abundance ratios in $\omega$ Cen.

It is still uncertain whether the abundance peculiarities of $\omega$ Cen result from the fact that the high velocity contributions of supernovae escaped the globular cluster, usually considered as a tidally stripped core of a dwarf galaxy. Another possibility is a general dominance of wind ejecta at very low Z, due to the formation of black holes. Some abundance and isotopic ratios like $\rm Mg/Al$, $\rm Na/Mg$, $\rm Ne/N$, $\rm ^{12}C/^{13}C$, $\rm ^{16}O/^{18}O$ and $\rm ^{17}O/^{18}O$ may allow us to further discriminate between these scenarios and between the AGB and massive star contributions.


Key words: stars: $\omega$ Centauri -- helium -- stars: evolution

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