First observational signature of rotational deceleration in a massive, intermediate-age star cluster in the magellanic clouds

Xiaohan Wu, Chengyuan Li, Richard De Grijs, Licai Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

While the extended main-sequence turnoffs (eMSTOs) found in almost all 1-2 Gyr old star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds are often explained by postulating extended star formation histories (SFHs), the tight subgiant branches (SGBs) seen in some clusters challenge this popular scenario. Puzzlingly, the SGB of the eMSTO cluster NGC 419 is significantly broader at bluer than at redder colors. We carefully assess and confirm the reality of this observational trend. If we would assume that the widths of the features in color-magnitude space were entirely owing to a range in stellar ages, the SFHs of the eMSTO stars and the blue SGB region would be significantly more prolonged than that of the red part of the SGB. This cannot be explained by assuming an internal age spread. We show that rotational deceleration of a population of rapidly rotating stars, a currently hotly debated alternative scenario, naturally explains the observed trend along the SGB. Our analysis shows that a "converging" SGB could be produced if the cluster is mostly composed of rapidly rotating stars that slow down over time owing to the conservation of angular momentum during their evolutionary expansion from main-sequence turnoff stars to red giants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL14
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume826
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2016

Keywords

  • galaxies: star clusters: individual (NGC 419)
  • Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • stars: rotation

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