Monday, April 29, 2013

1304.7009 (Valentina D'Orazi et al.)

On the internal pollution mechanisms in the globular cluster NGC 6121 (M4): heavy-element abundances and AGB models    [PDF]

Valentina D'Orazi, Simon W. Campbell, Maria Lugaro, John C. Lattanzio, Marco Pignatari, Eugenio Carretta
Globular clusters display significant variations in their light-element content, pointing to the existence of a second stellar generation formed from the ejecta of an earlier generation. The nature of these internal polluters is still a matter of debate: the two most popular scenarios indicate intermediate-mass AGB stars and fast rotating massive stars. Abundances determination for some key elements can help distinguish between these competitor candidates. We present in this paper Y abundances for a sample of 103 red giant branch stars in NGC 6121. Within measurement errors, we find that the [Y/Fe] is constant in this cluster contrary to a recent suggestion. For a subsample of six stars we also find [Rb/Fe] to be constant, consistent with previous studies showing no variation in other s-process elements. We also present a new set of stellar yields for intermediate-mass AGB stellar models of 5 and 6 solar masses, including heavy element s-process abundances. The uncertainties on the mass-loss rate, the mixing-length parameter, and the nuclear reaction rates have a major impact on the stellar abundances. Within the IM-AGB pollution scenario, the constant abundance of heavy elements inside the cluster requires a marginal s-process efficiency in IM-AGB stars. Such a constrain could still be satisfied by the present models assuming a stronger mass-loss rate. The uncertainties mentioned above are limiting the predictive power of intermediate-mass AGB models. For these reasons, at the moment we are not able to clearly rule out their role as main polluters of the second population stars in globular clusters.
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