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Frank Grundahl

Radial Distributions of Sub-Populations in the Globular Cluster M15: A More Centrally Concentrated Primordial Population

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  • Søren S. Larsen, Department of Astrophysics/IMAPP, Radboud University, P.O. Box 9010, 6500 GL Nijmegen, The Netherlands s.larsen@astro.ru.nl
  • ,
  • Holger Baumgardt, School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland, St.Lucia, QLD 4072, Australia, Denmark
  • Nate Bastian, Liverpool John Moores University, Denmark
  • Jean P. Brodie, UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
  • ,
  • Frank Grundahl
  • Jay Strader, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
We examine the radial distributions of stellar populations in the globular cluster (GC) M15, using Hubble Space Telescope/Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3) photometry of red giants in the nitrogen-sensitive F343N–F555W color. Surprisingly, we find that giants with “primordial” composition (i.e., N abundances similar to those in field stars) are the most centrally concentrated within the WFC3 field. We then combine our WFC3 data with Sloan Digital Sky Survey u,g photometry and find that the trend reverses for radii ≳ 1\prime (3 pc) where the ratio of primordial to N-enhanced giants increases outward, as already found by Lardo et al. The ratio of primordial to enriched stars thus has a U-shaped dependency on radius with a minimum near the half-light radius. N-body simulations show that mass segregation might produce a trend resembling the observed one, but only if the N-enhanced giants are ∼ 0.25 {{M}ȯ } less massive than the primordial giants, which requires extreme He enhancement (Y≳ 0.40). However, such a large difference in Y is incompatible with the negligible optical color differences between primordial and enriched giants, which suggest {Δ }Y≲ 0.03 and thus a difference in turn-off mass of {Δ }M≲ 0.04 {{M}ȯ } between the different populations. The radial trends in M15 are thus unlikely to be of dynamical origin and presumably reflect initial conditions, a result that challenges all current GC formation scenarios. We note that population gradients in the central regions of GCs remain poorly investigated and may show a more diverse behavior than hitherto thought. Based on observations made with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA contract NAS 5-26555. These observations are associated with program #13295.
Original languageEnglish
Article number71
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015

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