Volume 527, March 2011
|Number of page(s)||15|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||20 January 2011|
The subgiant branch of ω Centauri seen through high-resolution spectroscopy
INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1
2 Dipartimento di Astronomia, Università degli studi di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
3 Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85741 Garching, Germany
4 Laboratoire d’Études des Galaxies, Étoiles, Physique et Instrumentation (GEPI), Observatoire de Paris, 61 avenue de L’Observatoire, 75014 Paris, France
5 European Southern Observatory, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 2, 85748 Garching bei München, Germany
6 European Southern Observatory, Casilla 19100, Santiago, Chile
Received: 29 October 2010
Accepted: 12 December 2010
We analysed high-resolution UVES spectra of six stars belonging to the subgiant branch of ω Centauri, and derived abundance ratios of 19 chemical elements (namely Al, Ba, C, Ca, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, La, Mg, Mn, N, Na, Ni, Sc, Si, Sr, Ti, and Y). A comparison with previous abundance determinations for red giants provided remarkable agreement and allowed us to identify the sub-populations to which our targets belong. We found that three targets belong to a low-metallicity population at [Fe/H] ≃ –2.0 dex, [α/Fe] ≃ +0.4 dex and [s/Fe] ≃ 0 dex. Stars with similar characteristics were found in small amounts by past surveys of red giants. We discuss the possibility that they belong to a separate sub-population that we name VMP (very metal-poor, at most 5% of the total cluster population), which – in the self-enrichment hypothesis – is the best-candidate first stellar generation in ω Cen. Two of the remaining targets belong to the dominant metal-poor population (MP) at [Fe/H] ≃ –1.7 dex, and the last one to the metal-intermediate (MInt) one at [Fe/H] ≃ –1.2 dex. The existence of the newly defined VMP population could help to understand some puzzling results based on low-resolution spectroscopy for age differences determinations, because the metallicity resolution of these studies was probably not enough to detect the VMP population. The VMP could also correspond to some of the additional substructures of the subgiant-branch region found in the latest HST photometry. After trying to correlate chemical abundances with substructures in the subgiant branch of ω Cen, we found that the age difference between the VMP and MP populations should be small (0 ± 2 Gyr), while the difference between the MP and MInt populations could be slightly larger (2 ± 2 Gyr).
Key words: stars: abundances / stars: population II / stars: late-type / globular clusters: individual:ωCentauri / globular clusters: individual: NGC 6397
Based on data collected at the ESO VLT in Chile, with UVES and FLAMES under programs 68.D-0332(A) and 079.D-0021. Also based on literature data from the ESO WFI, under programs 62.L-0354 and 63.L-0439, and on data collected from the following online databases: NIST, VALD, Kurucz, GEISA.
Full Table 2 is only available in electronic form at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (126.96.36.199) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/527/A18
© ESO, 2011
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