The hottest horizontal-branch stars in $\mathsf{\omega}$ Centauri. Late hot flasher vs. helium enrichment

S. Moehler, S. Dreizler, T. Lanz, G. Bono, A. V. Sweigart, A. Calamida, M. Monelli, M. Nonino
2007 Astronomy and Astrophysics  
UV observations of some massive globular clusters uncovered a significant population of very hot stars below the hot end of the horizontal branch (HB), the so-called blue hook stars. This feature might be explained either as results of the late hot flasher scenario where stars experience the helium flash while on the white dwarf cooling curve or by the progeny of the helium-enriched sub-population recently postulated to exist in some clusters. Moderately high resolution spectra of stars at the
more » ... ra of stars at the hot end of the blue HB in omega Cen were analysed for atmospheric parameters and abundances using LTE and Non-LTE model atmospheres. In the temperature range 30,000K to 50,000K we find that 35% of our stars are helium-poor (log(n_He/n_H) < -2), 51% have solar helium abundance within a factor of 3 (-1.5 <= log(n_He/n_H) <= -0.5) and 14% are helium-rich (log(n_He/n_H)> -0.4). We also find carbon enrichment in step with helium enrichment, with a maximum carbon enrichment of 3% by mass. At least 14% of the hottest HB stars in omega Cen show helium abundances well above the highest predictions from the helium enrichment scenario (Y = 0.42 corresponding to log(n_He/n_H) ~ -0.74). In addition, the most helium-rich stars show strong carbon enrichment as predicted by the late hot flasher scenario. We conclude that the helium-rich HB stars in omega Cen cannot be explained solely by the helium-enrichment scenario invoked to explain the blue main sequence. (Abridged)
doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20078509 fatcat:ly6xasaoh5cybhqhnsh2gj2zfu