Journal Article

Origin of multiple stellar populations in globular clusters and their helium enrichment

Alvio Renzini

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 391, issue 1, pages 354-362
Published in print November 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Origin of multiple stellar populations in globular clusters and their helium enrichment

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The various scenarios proposed for the origin of the multiple, helium-enriched populations in massive globular clusters are critically compared to the relevant constraining observations. Among accretion of helium-rich material by pre-existing stars, star formation out of ejecta from massive asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars or from fast rotating massive stars, and pollution by Population III stars, only the AGB option appears to be viable. Accretion or star formation out of outflowing discs would result in a spread of helium abundances, thus failing to produce the distinct, chemically homogeneous subpopulations such as those in the clusters ω Cen and NGC 2808. Pollution by Population III stars would fail to produce subpopulations selectively enriched in helium, but maintaining the same abundance of heavy elements. Still, it is argued that for the AGB option to work, two conditions should be satisfied: (i) AGB stars experiencing the hot bottom burning process (i.e. those more massive than ∼3 M) should rapidly eject their envelope upon arrival on the AGB, thus experiencing just a few third dredge-up episodes; and (ii) clusters with multiple, helium-enriched populations should be the remnants of much more massive systems, such as nucleated dwarf galaxies, as indeed widely assumed.

Keywords: stars: AGB and post-AGB; globular clusters: general; globular clusters: individual: ω Cen; globular clusters: individual: NGC 1851; globular clusters: individual: NGC 2808; globular clusters: individual: NGC 6388

Journal Article.  8589 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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