The subgiant branch of ω Centauri seen through high-resolution spectroscopy
INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2 Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università degli studi di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
3 GEPI, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, Univ. Paris Diderot, 5 Place Jules Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
4 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19100, Santiago, Chile
5 Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85741 Garching, Germany
Received: 30 May 2011
Accepted: 29 August 2011
We analyze spectra of 18 stars belonging to the faintest subgiant branch in ω Centauri (the SGB-a), obtained with GIRAFFE@VLT at a resolution of R ≃ 17 000 and a S/N ratio between 25 and 50. We measure abundances of Al, Ba, Ca, Fe, Ni, Si, and Ti and we find that these stars have ⟨[Fe/H]⟩ = −0.73 ± 0.14 dex, similarly to the corresponding red giant branch population (the RGB-a). We also measure ⟨[α/Fe]⟩ = + 0.40 ± 0.16 dex, and ⟨[Ba/Fe]⟩ = + 0.87 ± 0.23 dex, in general agreement with past studies. It is very interesting to note that we found a uniform Al abundance, ⟨[Al/Fe]⟩ = + 0.32 ± 0.14 dex, for all the 18 SGB-a stars analysed here, thus supporting past evidence that the usual (anti-)correlations are not present in this population, and suggesting a non globular cluster-like origin of this particular population. In the dwarf galaxy hypothesis for the formation of ω Cen, this population might be the best candidate for the field population of its putative parent galaxy, although some of its properties appear contradictory. It has also been suggested that the most metal-rich population in ω Cen is significantly enriched in helium. If this is true, the traditional abundance analysis techniques, based on model atmospheres with normal helium content, might lead to errors. We have computed helium enhanced atmospheres for three stars in our sample and verified that the abundance errors due to the use of non-enhanced atmospheres are negligible. Additional, indirect support to the enhanced helium content of the SGB-a population comes from our Li upper limits.
Key words: stars: abundances / globular clusters: individual:ωCentauri
Based on observations with the ESO GIRAFFE@VLT, under programme 079.D-0021(A). Also based on literature data obtained with WFI@VLT (programmes 62.L-0345 and 63.L-0439) and FORS@VLT (programme 68.D-0332). The following online databases were also extensively employed: NIST, VALD, Kurucz.
Full Table 2 is only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (188.8.131.52) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/534/A53
© ESO, 2011