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  1. ABSTRACT

    M 22 (NGC 6656) is a chemically complex globular cluster-like system reported to harbour heavy element abundance variations. However, the extent of these variations and the origin of this cluster is still debated. In this work, we investigate the chemical in-homogeneity of M 22 using differential line-by-line analysis of high-quality (R = 110 000, S/N  = 300 per pixel at 514 nm) VLT/UVES spectra of six carefully chosen red giant branch stars. By achieving abundance uncertainties as low as ∼0.01 dex (∼2 per cent), this high precision data validates the results of previous studies and reveals variations in Fe, Na, Si, Ca, Sc, Ti, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Zn, Y, Zr, La, Ce, Nd, Sm, and Eu. Additionally, we can confirm that the cluster hosts two stellar populations with a spread of at least 0.24 dex in [Fe/H] and an average s-process abundance spread of 0.65 dex. In addition to global variations across the cluster, we also find non-negligible variations within each of the two populations, with the more metal-poor population hosting larger spreads in elements heavier than Fe than the metal-rich. We address previous works that do not identify anomalous abundances and relate our findings to our current dynamical understanding of the cluster.more »Given our results, we suggest that M 22 is either a nuclear star cluster, the product of two merged clusters, or an original building block of the Milky Way.

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  2. 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 thatmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 26, 2023
  3. 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 havemore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  4. ABSTRACT We present chemical abundances for 21 elements (from Li to Eu) in 150 metal-poor Galactic stars spanning −4.1 < [Fe/H] < −2.1. The targets were selected from the SkyMapper survey and include 90 objects with [Fe/H] ≤ −3 of which some 15 have [Fe/H] ≤ −3.5. When combining the sample with our previous studies, we find that the metallicity distribution function has a power-law slope of Δ(log N)/Δ[Fe/H] = 1.51 ± 0.01 dex per dex over the range −4 ≤ [Fe/H] ≤ −3. With only seven carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars in the sample, we again find that the selection of metal-poor stars based on SkyMapper filters is biased against highly carbon-rich stars for [Fe/H] > −3.5. Of the 20 objects for which we could measure nitrogen, 11 are nitrogen-enhanced metal-poor (NEMP) stars. Within our sample, the high NEMP fraction (55 per cent ± 21 per cent) is compatible with the upper range of predicted values (between 12 per cent and 35 per cent). The chemical abundance ratios [X/Fe] versus [Fe/H] exhibit similar trends to previous studies of metal-poor stars and Galactic chemical evolution models. We report the discovery of nine new r-I stars, four new r-II stars, one of which is the most metal-poor known, nine low-α starsmore »with [α/Fe] ≤ 0.15 as well as one unusual star with [Zn/Fe] = +1.4 and [Sr/Fe] = +1.2 but with normal [Ba/Fe]. Finally, we combine our sample with literature data to provide the most extensive view of the early chemical enrichment of the Milky Way Galaxy.« less
  5. ABSTRACT The amount of mass lost by stars during the red-giant branch (RGB) phase is one of the main parameters to understand and correctly model the late stages of stellar evolution. Nevertheless, a fully comprehensive knowledge of the RGB mass-loss is still missing. Galactic Globular Clusters (GCs) are ideal targets to derive empirical formulations of mass-loss, but the presence of multiple populations with different chemical compositions has been a major challenge to constrain stellar masses and RGB mass-losses. Recent work has disentangled the distinct stellar populations along the RGB and the horizontal branch (HB) of 46 GCs, thus providing the possibility to estimate the RGB mass-loss of each stellar population. The mass-losses inferred for the stellar populations with pristine chemical composition (called first-generation or 1G stars) tightly correlate with cluster metallicity. This finding allows us to derive an empirical RGB mass-loss law for 1G stars. In this paper, we investigate seven GCs with no evidence of multiple populations and derive the RGB mass-loss by means of high-precision Hubble-Space Telescope photometry and accurate synthetic photometry. We find a cluster-to-cluster variation in the mass-loss ranging from ∼0.1 to ∼0.3 M⊙. The RGB mass-loss of simple-population GCs correlates with the metallicity of themore »host cluster. The discovery that simple-population GCs and 1G stars of multiple population GCs follow similar mass-loss versus metallicity relations suggests that the resulting mass-loss law is a standard outcome of stellar evolution.« less
  6. ABSTRACT In this work, we combine spectroscopic information from the SkyMapper survey for Extremely Metal-Poor stars and astrometry from Gaia DR2 to investigate the kinematics of a sample of 475 stars with a metallicity range of $-6.5 \le \rm [Fe/H] \le -2.05$ dex. Exploiting the action map, we identify 16 and 40 stars dynamically consistent with the Gaia Sausage and Gaia Sequoia accretion events, respectively. The most metal poor of these candidates have metallicities of $\rm [Fe/H]=-3.31\, \mathrm{ and }\, -3.74$, respectively, helping to define the low-metallicity tail of the progenitors involved in the accretion events. We also find, consistent with other studies, that ∼21 per cent of the sample have orbits that remain confined to within 3 kpc of the Galactic plane, that is, |Zmax| ≤ 3 kpc. Of particular interest is a subsample (∼11 per cent of the total) of low |Zmax| stars with low eccentricities and prograde motions. The lowest metallicity of these stars has [Fe/H] = –4.30 and the subsample is best interpreted as the very low-metallicity tail of the metal-weak thick disc population. The low |Zmax|, low eccentricity stars with retrograde orbits are likely accreted, while the low |Zmax|, high eccentricity pro- and retrograde stars are plausibly associated with the Gaiamore »Sausage system. We find that a small fraction of our sample (∼4 per cent of the total) is likely escaping from the Galaxy, and postulate that these stars have gained energy from gravitational interactions that occur when infalling dwarf galaxies are tidally disrupted.« less