Comparing CN and CH line strengths in a homogeneous spectroscopic sample of 8 Galactic globular clusters
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Our work focuses on the understanding of the origin of CNO-anomalies, which have been detected in several Galactic globular clusters (GCs). This study is based on a homogeneous data set of hundreds of medium resolution spectra of stars in eight GCs. Two of the clusters are believed to be former members of the Sagittarius dSph galaxy. Our sample comprises stars in different evolutionary states, namely the main sequence turn-off (MSTO) region, the subgiant branch (SGB), and the base of the red
... nt branch (RGB). We compare the relative CN and CH line strengths of stars in the same evolutionary states. The majority of the examined clusters show significant variations in their CN and CH abundances at the base of the RGB. The two former Sgr dSph clusters do not exhibit any CN-strong stars. Our results suggest that the environment in which the clusters influences existence of CN-strong stars. We confirm the known anticorrelation between CN and CH for most of the observed GCs. Although the signal of CN absorption is weaker for the hotter stars on the MSTO and SGB we observed the same anticorrelation in these less evolved stars for the CN-bimodal clusters. The inclusion of structural parameters taken from literature reveals that the existence of the CN-bifurcation seems to be independent of most other cluster characteristics. In particular, we do not confirm the correlation between cluster ellipticity and number of CN-strong stars. However, there may be a trend of an increased percentage of CN-strong stars with increasing cluster tidal radius and total luminosity. We argue that our findings are consistent with pollution by intermediate AGB stars and/or fast rotating massive stars and two generations of star formation in luminous clusters with larger tidal radii at larger Galactocentric distances.