skip to main content

Title: Survey of Multiple Populations in Globular Clusters among Very-low-mass Stars
Abstract Recent work has shown that near-infrared (NIR) Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photometry allows us to disentangle multiple populations (MPs) among M dwarfs of globular clusters (GCs) and to investigate this phenomenon in very-low-mass (VLM) stars. Here, we present the color–magnitude diagrams of nine GCs and the open cluster NGC 6791 in the F110W and F160W bands of HST, showing that the main sequences (MSs) below the knee are either broadened or split, thus providing evidence of MPs among VLM stars. In contrast, the MS of NGC 6791 is consistent with a single population. The color distribution of M dwarfs dramatically changes between different GCs, and the color width correlates with the cluster mass. We conclude that the MP ubiquity, variety, and dependence on GC mass are properties common to VLM and more-massive stars. We combined UV, optical, and NIR observations of NGC 2808 and NGC 6121 (M4) to identify MPs along with a wide range of stellar masses (∼0.2–0.8  ⊙ ), from the MS turnoff to the VLM regime, and measured, for the first time, their mass functions (MFs). We find that the fraction of MPs does not depend on the stellar mass and that their MFs have similar slopes. These findings indicate that the properties of MPs do not depend on stellar mass. In a scenario where the second generations formed in higher-density environments than the first generations, the possibility that the MPs formed with the same initial MF would suggest that it does not depend on the environment.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract We present photometric evidence for multiple stellar populations (MPs) in 14 globular clusters (GCs) toward the southern Galactic bulge. The photometric data come as part of the Blanco DECam Bulge Survey, which is a deep, wide-field near-UV-near-IR ( ugriz Y) survey of the southern Galactic bulge. Here, we present the first systematic study of bulge GC multiple populations with deep photometry including the u band, which is a crucial indicator of the abundance of CNO-bearing molecules in stellar atmospheres. We identify cluster members using Gaia EDR3 proper motion measurements, and then isolate red giant branch stars using r versus u − r color–magnitude diagrams. We find evidence suggesting all 14 clusters host at least two populations, and NGC 6441, NGC 6626, and NGC 6656 appear to have at least three populations. Many of these clusters are not part of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) surveys nor do they have comprehensive spectroscopic analyses so we are presenting the first evidence of MPs in several clusters. Not only do we find a strong anticorrelation between the fraction of first-generation stars and cluster absolute V magnitude, but the correlation coefficient and cluster-to-cluster scatter are similar to the results obtained from HST. Our ground-based data extend to much larger radial distances than similar HST observations, enabling a reliable estimate of the global fraction of first-generation stars in each cluster. This study demonstrates that ground-based u -band photometry as provided by DECam will prove powerful in the study of multiple populations in resolved GCs. 
    more » « less

    In the third paper of this series aimed at developing the tools for analysing resolved stellar populations using the cameras on board of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), we present a detailed multiband study of the 2 Gyr Galactic open cluster NGC 2506. We employ public calibration data sets collected in multiple filters to: (i) derive improved effective Point Spread Functions (ePSFs) for 10 NIRCam filters; (ii) extract high-precision photometry and astrometry for stars in the cluster, approaching the main sequence (MS) lower mass of ∼0.1 M⊙; and (iii) take advantage of the synergy between JWST and Gaia DR3 to perform a comprehensive analysis of the cluster’s global and local properties. We derived a MS binary fraction of ∼57.5 per cent, extending the Gaia limit (∼0.8 M⊙) to lower masses (∼0.4 M⊙) with JWST. We conducted a study on the mass functions (MFs) of NGC 2506, mapping the mass segregation with Gaia data, and extending MFs to lower masses with the JWST field. We also combined information on the derived MFs to infer an estimate of the cluster present-day total mass. Lastly, we investigated the presence of white dwarfs (WDs) and identified a strong candidate. However, to firmly establish its cluster membership, as well as that of four other WD candidates and of the majority of faint low-mass MS stars, further JWST equally deep observations will be required. We make publicly available catalogues, atlases, and the improved ePSFs.

    more » « less
  3. ABSTRACT Disentangling distinct stellar populations along the red-giant branches (RGBs) of globular clusters (GCs) is possible by using the pseudo-two-colour diagram dubbed chromosome map (ChM). One of the most intriguing findings is that the so-called first-generation (1G) stars, characterized by the same chemical composition of their natal cloud, exhibit extended sequences in the ChM. Unresolved binaries and internal variations in helium or metallicity have been suggested to explain this phenomenon. Here, we derive high-precision Hubble Space Telescope photometry of the GCs NGC 6362 and NGC 6838 and build their ChMs. We find that both 1G RGB and main-sequence (MS) stars exhibit wider ChM sequences than those of second-generation (2G). The evidence of this feature even among unevolved 1G MS stars indicates that chemical inhomogeneities are imprinted in the original gas. We introduce a pseudo-two-magnitude diagram to distinguish between helium and metallicity, and demonstrate that star-to-star metallicity variations are responsible for the extended 1G sequence. Conversely, binaries provide a minor contribution to the phenomenon. We estimate that the metallicity variations within 1G stars of 55 GCs range from less than [Fe/H]∼0.05 to ∼0.30 and mildly correlate with cluster mass. We exploit these findings to constrain the formation scenarios of multiple populations showing that they are qualitatively consistent with the occurrence of multiple generations. In contrast, the fact that 2G stars have more homogeneous iron content than the 1G challenges the scenarios based on accretion of material processed in massive 1G stars on to existing protostars. 
    more » « less
  4. Abstract We present Hubble Space Telescope (HST) photometric results for NGC 6402, a highly reddened, very luminous Galactic globular cluster (GC). Recent spectroscopic observations of its red giant stars have shown a quite peculiar behavior in the chemistry of its multiple populations. These results have prompted UV and optical HST observations aimed at obtaining the cluster’s “chromosome map” (ChM), an efficient tool for classifying GCs and characterizing their multiple populations. We find that the discontinuity in the abundance distributions of O, Mg, Al, and Na inferred from spectroscopy is more nuanced in the ChM, which is mostly sensitive to nitrogen. Nevertheless, photometry in optical bands reveals a double main sequence, indicating a discontinuity in the helium content of the populations. The population with the largest chemical anomalies (extreme) peaks at a helium mass fraction Y ∼ 0.31. This helium content is consistent with results from the analysis of the distribution of horizontal branch stars and the spectrophotometry of the red giants. The ChM and the color–magnitude diagrams are compared with those of NGC 2808, a prototype GC with helium abundances up to Y ≳ 0.35, and both confirm that NGC 6402 does not host stellar populations with such extreme helium content. Further, the ChM reveals the presence of a group of stars with higher metallicity, thus indicating that NGC 6402 is a Type II cluster. The modalities of formation of the multiple populations in NGC 6402 are briefly surveyed, with main attention on the asymptotic giant branch and supermassive star models, and on possible cluster merging. 
    more » « less
  5. ABSTRACT We report the formation of bound star clusters in a sample of high-resolution cosmological zoom-in simulations of z ≥ 5 galaxies from the Feedback In Realistic Environments project. We find that bound clusters preferentially form in high-pressure clouds with gas surface densities over $10^4\, \mathrm{ M}_{\odot }\, {\rm pc}^{-2}$, where the cloud-scale star formation efficiency is near unity and young stars born in these regions are gravitationally bound at birth. These high-pressure clouds are compressed by feedback-driven winds and/or collisions of smaller clouds/gas streams in highly gas-rich, turbulent environments. The newly formed clusters follow a power-law mass function of dN/dM ∼ M−2. The cluster formation efficiency is similar across galaxies with stellar masses of ∼107–$10^{10}\, \mathrm{ M}_{\odot }$ at z ≥ 5. The age spread of cluster stars is typically a few Myr and increases with cluster mass. The metallicity dispersion of cluster members is ∼0.08 dex in $\rm [Z/H]$ and does not depend on cluster mass significantly. Our findings support the scenario that present-day old globular clusters (GCs) were formed during relatively normal star formation in high-redshift galaxies. Simulations with a stricter/looser star formation model form a factor of a few more/fewer bound clusters per stellar mass formed, while the shape of the mass function is unchanged. Simulations with a lower local star formation efficiency form more stars in bound clusters. The simulated clusters are larger than observed GCs due to finite resolution. Our simulations are among the first cosmological simulations that form bound clusters self-consistently in a wide range of high-redshift galaxies. 
    more » « less