Journal Article

Be phenomenon in open clusters: results from a survey of emission-line stars in young open clusters

Blesson Mathew, Annapurni Subramaniam and Bhuwan Chandra Bhatt

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 388, issue 4, pages 1879-1888
Published in print August 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online August 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13533.x
Be phenomenon in open clusters: results from a survey of emission-line stars in young open clusters

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Emission-line stars in young open clusters are identified to study their properties, as a function of age, spectral type and evolutionary state. 207 open star clusters were observed using the slitless spectroscopy method and 157 emission stars were identified in 42 clusters. We have found 54 new emission-line stars in 24 open clusters, out of which 19 clusters are found to house emission stars for the first time. About 20 per cent clusters harbour emission stars. The fraction of clusters housing emission stars is maximum in both the 0–10 and 20–30 Myr age bin (∼40 per cent each). Most of the emission stars in our survey belong to Classical Be class (∼92 per cent) while a few are Herbig Be stars (∼6 per cent) and Herbig Ae stars (∼2 per cent). The youngest clusters to have Classical Be stars are IC 1590, NGC 637 and 1624 (all 4 Myr old) while NGC 6756 (125–150 Myr) is the oldest cluster to have Classical Be stars. The Classical Be stars are located all along the main sequence (MS) in the optical colour–magnitude diagrams (CMDs) of clusters of all ages, which indicates that the Be phenomenon is unlikely due to core contraction near the turn-off. The distribution of Classical Be stars as a function of spectral type shows peaks at B1–B2 and B6–B7 spectral types. The Be star fraction [N(Be)/N(B+Be)] is found to be less than 10 per cent for most of the clusters and NGC 2345 is found to have the largest fraction (∼26 per cent). Our results indicate there could be two mechanisms responsible for the Classical Be phenomenon. Some are born Classical Be stars (fast rotators), as indicated by their presence in clusters younger than 10 Myr. Some stars evolve to Classical Be stars, within the MS lifetime, as indicated by the enhancement in the fraction of clusters with Classical Be stars in the 20–30 Myr age bin.

Keywords: stars: emission-line, Be; stars: formation; stars: pre-main-sequence

Journal Article.  7775 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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