Volume 571, November 2014
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Stellar structure and evolution|
|Published online||14 November 2014|
On the missing second generation AGB stars in NGC 6752
1 INAF − Osservatorio Astronomico di Teramo, via M. Maggini, 64100 Teramo, Italy
2 Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, IC2, Liverpool Science Park, 146 Brownlow Hill, Liverpool L3 5RF, UK
3 Armagh Observatory, College Hill, BT61 9DG Armagh, Northern Ireland
4 Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Calle Vía Láctea, s/n, 38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Received: 6 July 2014
Accepted: 12 October 2014
In recent years the view of Galactic globular clusters as simple stellar populations has changed dramatically, it is now thought that basically all globular clusters host multiple stellar populations, each with its own chemical abundance pattern and colour–magnitude diagram sequence. Recent spectroscopic observations of asymptotic giant branch stars in the globular cluster NGC 6752 have disclosed a low [Na/Fe] abundance for the whole sample, suggesting that they are all first generation stars, and that all second generation stars fail to reach the AGB in this cluster. A scenario proposed to explain these observations invokes strong mass loss in second generation horizontal branch stars – all located at the hot side of the blue and extended horizontal branch of this cluster – possibly induced by the metal enhancement associated to radiative levitation. This enhanced mass loss would prevent second generation stars from reaching the asymptotic giant branch phase, thus explaining at the same time the low value of the ratio between horizontal branch and asymptotic giant branch stars (the R2 parameter) observed in NGC 6752. We have critically discussed this mass-loss scenario, finding that the required mass-loss rates are of the order of 10-9 M⊙ yr-1, significantly higher than current theoretical and empirical constraints. By making use of synthetic horizontal branch simulations, we demonstrate that our modelling correctly predicts the R2 parameter for NGC 6752, without the need to invoke very efficient mass loss during the core He-burning stage. As a test of our stellar models we show that we can reproduce the observed value of R2 for both M 3, a cluster of approximately the same metallicity and with a redder horizontal branch morphology, and M 13, a cluster with a horizontal branch very similar to NGC 6752. However, our simulations for the NGC 6752 horizontal branch predict however the presence of a significant fraction of second generation stars (about 50%) along the cluster asymptotic giant branch. We conclude that there is no simple explanation for the lack of second generation stars in the spectroscopically surveyed sample, although the interplay between mass loss (with low rates) and radiative levitation may play a role in explaining this puzzle.
Key words: stars: abundances / stars: AGB and post-AGB / globular clusters: general / galaxies: clusters: individual: NGC 6752 / stars: horizontal-branch
© ESO, 2014
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