Not-so-simple stellar populations in the intermediate-age Large Magellanic Cloud star clusters NGC 1831 and NGC 1868

Chengyuan Li, Richard De Grijs, Licai Deng

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28 Citations (Scopus)
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Using a combination of high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope/Wide-Field and Planetary Camera-2 observations, we explore the physical properties of the stellar populations in two intermediate-age star clusters, NGC 1831 and NGC 1868, in the Large Magellanic Cloud based on their color-magnitude diagrams. We show that both clusters exhibit extended main-sequence turn offs. To explain the observations, we consider variations in helium abundance, binarity, age dispersions, and the fast rotation of the clusters' member stars. The observed narrow main sequence excludes significant variations in helium abundance in both clusters. We first establish the clusters' main-sequence binary fractions using the bulk of the clusters' main-sequence stellar populations ≳ 1 mag below their turn-offs. The extent of the turn-off regions in color-magnitude space, corrected for the effects of binarity, implies that age spreads of order 300 Myr may be inferred for both clusters if the stellar distributions in color-magnitude space were entirely due to the presence of multiple populations characterized by an age range. Invoking rapid rotation of the population of cluster members characterized by a single age also allows us to match the observed data in detail. However, when taking into account the extent of the red clump in color-magnitude space, we encounter an apparent conflict for NGC 1831 between the age dispersion derived from that based on the extent of the main-sequence turn off and that implied by the compact red clump. We therefore conclude that, for this cluster, variations in stellar rotation rate are preferred over an age dispersion. For NGC 1868, both models perform equally well.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 The American Astronomical Society. First published in the Astrophysical Journal, 784(2), 157, 2014. The original publication is available at, published by IOP Publishing. 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.


  • binaries: general
  • galaxies: star clusters: individual (NGC 1831, NGC 1868)
  • Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
  • Magellanic Clouds
  • stars: rotation


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