The VMC survey. XI. Radial stellar population gradients in the Galactic globular cluster 47 Tucanae

Chengyuan Li, Richard De Grijs, Licai Deng, Stefano Rubele, Chuchu Wang, Kenji Bekki, Maria Rosa L Cioni, Gisella Clementini, Jim Emerson, Bi Qing For, Leo Girardi, Martin A T Groenewegen, Roald Guandalini, Marco Gullieuszik, Marcella Marconi, Andrés E. Piatti, Vincenzo Ripepi, Jacco Th Van Loon

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We present a deep near-infrared color-magnitude diagram of the Galactic globular cluster 47 Tucanae, obtained with the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) as part of the VISTA near-infrared Y, J, K s survey of the Magellanic System (VMC). The cluster stars comprising both the subgiant and red giant branches exhibit apparent, continuous variations in color-magnitude space as a function of radius. Subgiant branch stars at larger radii are systematically brighter than their counterparts closer to the cluster core; similarly, red-giant-branch stars in the cluster's periphery are bluer than their more centrally located cousins. The observations can very well be described by adopting an age spread of 0.5 Gyr as well as radial gradients in both the cluster's helium abundance (Y) and metallicity (Z), which change gradually from (Y = 0.28, Z = 0.005) in the cluster core to (Y = 0.25, Z = 0.003) in its periphery. We conclude that the cluster's inner regions host a significant fraction of second-generation stars, which decreases with increasing radius; the stellar population in the 47 Tuc periphery is well approximated by a simple stellar population.

Original languageEnglish
Article number35
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 The American Astronomical Society. First published in the Astrophysical Journal, 790(1), 35, 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.


  • globular clusters: individual (47 Tuc, NGC 104)
  • Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams
  • infrared: stars
  • stars: Population II

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