The subgiant branch of ω Centauri seen through high-resolution spectroscopy: II. the most metal-rich population

E. Pancino, A. Mucciarelli, P. Bonifacio, L. Monaco, L. Sbordone

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17 Citations (Scopus)


We analyze spectra of 18 stars belonging to the faintest subgiant branch in ω Centauri (the SGB-a), obtained with [email protected] at a resolution of R 17 000 and a S/N ratio between 25 and 50. We measure abundances of Al, Ba, Ca, Fe, Ni, Si, and Ti and we find that these stars have [Fe/H] =-0.73 ± 0.14 dex, similarly to the corresponding red giant branch population (the RGB-a). We also measure [α/Fe] = + 0.40 ± 0.16 dex, and [Ba/Fe] = + 0.87 ± 0.23 dex, in general agreement with past studies. It is very interesting to note that we found a uniform Al abundance, [Al/Fe] = + 0.32 ± 0.14 dex, for all the 18 SGB-a stars analysed here, thus supporting past evidence that the usual (anti-)correlations are not present in this population, and suggesting a non globular cluster-like origin of this particular population. In the dwarf galaxy hypothesis for the formation of ω Cen, this population might be the best candidate for the field population of its putative parent galaxy, although some of its properties appear contradictory. It has also been suggested that the most metal-rich population in ω Cen is significantly enriched in helium. If this is true, the traditional abundance analysis techniques, based on model atmospheres with normal helium content, might lead to errors. We have computed helium enhanced atmospheres for three stars in our sample and verified that the abundance errors due to the use of non-enhanced atmospheres are negligible. Additional, indirect support to the enhanced helium content of the SGB-a population comes from our Li upper limits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA53
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Globular clusters: individual:ωCentauri
  • Stars: abundances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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