Exploring the Chemical Composition and Double Horizontal Branch of the Bulge Globular Cluster NGC 6569

Christian I. Johnson, R. Michael Rich, Nelson Caldwell, Mario Mateo, John I. Bailey, Edward W. Olszewski, Matthew G. Walker

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Abstract

Photometric and spectroscopic analyses have shown that the Galactic bulge cluster Terzan 5 hosts several populations with different metallicities and ages that manifest as a double red horizontal branch (HB). A recent investigation of the massive bulge cluster NGC 6569 revealed a similar, though less extended, HB luminosity split, but little is known about the cluster's detailed chemical composition. Therefore, we have used high-resolution spectra from the Magellan-M2FS and VLT-FLAMES spectrographs to investigate the chemical compositions and radial velocity distributions of red giant branch and HB stars in NGC 6569. We found the cluster to have a mean heliocentric radial velocity of -48.8 km s-1 (σ = 5.3 km s-1; 148 stars) and dex (19 stars), but the cluster's 0.05 dex [Fe/H] dispersion precludes a significant metallicity spread. NGC 6569 exhibits light- and heavy-element distributions that are common among old bulge/inner Galaxy globular clusters, including clear (anti)correlations between [O/Fe], [Na/Fe], and [Al/Fe]. The light-element data suggest that NGC 6569 may be composed of at least two distinct populations, and the cluster's low dex indicates significant pollution with r-process material. We confirm that both HBs contain cluster members, but metallicity and light-element variations are largely ruled out as sources for the luminosity difference. However, He mass fraction differences as small as ΔY ∼ 0.02 cannot be ruled out and may be sufficient to reproduce the double HB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number71
JournalAstronomical Journal
Volume155
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

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Keywords

  • globular clusters: general
  • globular clusters: individual (NGC 6569)
  • stars: abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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