The enigmatic globular cluster UKS 1 obscured by the bulge: H -band discovery of nitrogen-enhanced stars

José G. Fernández-Trincado, Dante Minniti, Timothy C. Beers, Sandro Villanova, Doug Geisler, Stefano O. Souza, Leigh C. Smith, Vinicius M. Placco, Katherine Vieira, Angeles Pérez-Villegas, Beatriz Barbuy, Alan Alves-Brito, Christian Moni Bidin, Javier Alonso-García, Baitian Tang, Tali Palma

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15 Citations (Scopus)


The presence of nitrogen-enriched stars in globular clusters provides key evidence for multiple stellar populations (MPs), as has been demonstrated with globular cluster spectroscopic data towards the bulge, disk, and halo. In this work, we employ the VVV Infrared Astrometric Catalogue (VIRAC) and the DR16 SDSS-IV release of the APOGEE survey to provide the first detailed spectroscopic study of the bulge globular cluster UKS 1. Based on these data, a sample of six selected cluster members was studied. We find the mean metallicity of UKS 1 to be [Fe/H] = -0.98 ± 0.11, considerably more metal-poor than previously reported, and a negligible metallicity scatter, typical of that observed by APOGEE in other Galactic globular clusters. In addition, we find a mean radial velocity of 66.1 ± 12.9 km s-1, which is in good agreement with literature values, within 1σ. By selecting stars in the VIRAC catalogue towards UKS 1, we also measure a mean proper motion of (μαcos(δ), μδ) = (-2.77 ± 0.23, -2.43 ± 0.16) mas yr-1. We find strong evidence for the presence of MPs in UKS 1, since four out of the six giants analysed in this work have strong enrichment in nitrogen ([N/Fe] - +0.95) accompanied by lower carbon abundances ([C/Fe] -0.2). Overall, the light- (C, N), α- (O, Mg, Si, Ca, Ti), Fe-peak (Fe, Ni), Odd-Z (Al, K), and the s-process (Ce, Nd, Yb) elemental abundances of our member candidates are consistent with those observed in globular clusters at similar metallicity. Furthermore, the overall star-to-star abundance scatter of elements exhibiting the multiple-population phenomenon in UKS 1 is typical of that found in other global clusters (GCs), and larger than the typical errors of some [X/Fe] abundances. Results from statistical isochrone fits in the VVV colour-magnitude diagrams indicate an age of 13.10-1.29+0.93 Gyr, suggesting that UKS 1 is a fossil relic in the Galactic bulge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number203932
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • Galaxies: clusters: individual: UKS 1
  • Stars: abundances
  • Stars: chemically peculiar
  • Techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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