1 Apartado de Correos 3413, 28080 Madrid, Spain
2 Instituto de Astronomía, Universidad Católica del Norte, Av. Angamos 0610, Antofagasta, Chile
3 Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia, Università degli Studi di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 3, 35122 Padova, Italy
4 European Southern Observatory, Alonso de Cordova 3107, Casilla 19001, Santiago 19, Chile
Received: 22 May 2015
Accepted: 5 July 2015
Context. In the Milky Way, most globular clusters are highly conspicuous objects that were found centuries ago. However, a few dozen of them are faint, sparsely populated systems that were identified largely during the second half of the past century. One of the faintest is ESO 37-1 (E 3) and as such it remains poorly studied, with no spectroscopic observations published so far although it was discovered in 1976.
Aims. We investigate the globular cluster E 3 in an attempt to better constrain its fundamental parameters. Spectroscopy of stars in the field of E 3 is shown here for the first time.
Methods. Deep, precise VI CCD photometry of E 3 down to V ~ 26 mag is presented and analysed. Low-resolution, medium signal-to-noise ratio spectra of nine candidate members are studied to derive radial velocity and metallicity. Proper motions from the UCAC4 catalogue are used to explore the kinematics of the bright members of E 3.
Results. Isochrone fitting indicates that E 3 is probably very old, with an age of about 13 Gyr; its distance from the Sun is nearly 10 kpc. It is also somewhat metal rich with [Fe/H] = −0.7. Regarding its kinematics, our tentative estimate for the proper motions is (μα cosδ,μδ) = (−7.0 ± 0.8, 3.5 ± 0.3) mas yr-1 (or a tangential velocity of 382 ± 79 km s-1) and for the radial velocity 45 ± 5 km s-1 in the solar rest frame.
Conclusions. E 3 is one of the most intriguing globular clusters in the Galaxy. Having an old age and being metal rich is clearly a peculiar combination, only seen in a handful of objects like the far more conspicuous NGC 104 (47 Tucanae). In addition, its low luminosity and sparse population make it a unique template for the study of the final evolutionary phases in the life of a star cluster. Unfortunately, E 3 is among the most elusive and challenging known globular clusters because field contamination severely hampers spectroscopic studies.
Key words: globular clusters: general / globular clusters: individual: ESO 37-1 / Galaxy: halo / Galaxy: structure / Local Group
This research note is based on observations made with the ESO VLT at the Paranal Observatory, under the program 078.D-0186 and includes data gathered with the 6.5 m Magellan Telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile (program ID CHILE-2015A-029).
Figure 6 and Appendix A are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
Tables of the individual photometric measurements are only available at the CDS via anonymous ftp to cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr (220.127.116.11) or via http://cdsarc.u-strasbg.fr/viz-bin/qcat?J/A+A/581/A13
© ESO, 2015