The evolution of copper in the globular cluster ω Centauri

Katia Cunha, Verne V. Smith, Nicholas B. Suntzeff, John E. Norris, Gary S. Da Costa, Bertrand Plez

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65 Scopus citations


Copper abundances are presented for 40 red giant members of the massive Galactic globular cluster ω Centauri, as well as 15 red giant members of the globular clusters NGC 288, NGC 362, NGC 3201, NGC 6752, and M4 (NGC 6121). The spectra are of relatively high spectral resolution and signal-to-noise ratio. Using these abundances, plus published literature values for field stars, the abundance trends of [Cu/Fe] are defined as a function of [Fe/H]. The lowest metallicity stars in ω Cen have [Fe/H] ∼ -2.0, with the stars in this sample spanning a range from [Fe/H] ∼ -2.0 to -0.8. In the field star sample, [Cu/Fe] rises from about -0.8 at [Fe/H] = -2.5 to about -0.4 at [Fe/H] ∼ -1.4 and then rises rapidly to [Cu/Fe] ∼ 0.0 at [Fe/H] = -1.1. The globular clusters (other than ω Cen) tend to also follow the trend as displayed by the field stars. Unlike the field stars, however, ω Cen displays a constant ratio of [Cu/Fe] ∼ -0.5 all the way to [Fe/H] = -0.8. At the metallicity of [Fe/H] = -0.8, the values of [Cu/Fe] in ω Cen fall below the corresponding mean ratio in the field stars by roughly 0.5 dex. If copper is produced primarily in Type la supernovae (SNe Ia), as suggested in the literature, the lack of an increase in [Cu/Fe] in ω Cen would suggest very little contribution from SNe Ia to its chemical evolution within the metallicitv range from [Fe/H] of -2.0 up to -0.8.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-388
Number of pages10
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number1 1759
StatePublished - Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Globular clusters
  • Individual (ω Centauri, NGC 288, NGC 362, NGC 3201, NGC 6752, M4)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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