An extreme paucity of second population AGB stars in the 'normal' globular cluster M4

B. T. MacLean*, S. W. Campbell, G. M. De Silva, J. Lattanzio, V. D'Orazi, J. D. Simpson, Y. Momany

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)
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    Galactic globular clusters (GCs) are now known to harbour multiple stellar populations, which are chemically distinct in many light element abundances. It is becoming increasingly clear that asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars in GCs show different abundance distributions in light elements compared to those in the red giant branch (RGB) and other phases, skewing towards more primordial, field-star-like abundances, which we refer to as subpopulation one (SP1). As part of a larger programme targeting giants in GCs, we obtained high-resolution spectra for a sample of 106 RGB and 15 AGB stars in Messier 4 (NGC 6121) using the 2dF+HERMES facility on the Anglo-Australian Telescope. In this Letter, we report an extreme paucity of AGB stars with [Na/O] >-0.17 in M4, which contrasts with the RGB that has abundances up to [Na/O] =0.55. The AGB abundance distribution is consistent with all AGB stars being from SP1. This result appears to imply that all subpopulation two stars (SP2; Na-rich, O-poor) avoid the AGB phase. This is an unexpected result given M4's horizontal branch morphology - it does not have an extended blue horizontal branch. This is the first abundance study to be performed utilizing the HERMES spectrograph.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)L69-L73
    Number of pages5
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2016 The Authors. First published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letter, 460(1), L69-L73, 2016. The original publication is available at, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • galaxy: abundances
    • galaxy: formation
    • globular clusters: general
    • globular clusters: individual: M4
    • stars: abundances
    • stars: AGB and post-AGB


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