Pulsation period changes as a tool to identify pre-zero age horizontal branch stars [chapter]

V. Silva Aguirre, M. Catelan, A. Weiss, A. A. R. Valcarce
2009 Synergies between Solar and Stellar Modelling  
One of the most dramatic events in the life of a low-mass star is the He flash, which takes place at the tip of the red giant branch (RGB) and is followed by a series of secondary flashes before the star settles into the zero-age horizontal branch (ZAHB). Yet, no stars have been positively identified in this key evolutionary phase, mainly for two reasons: first, this pre-ZAHB phase is very short compared to other major evolutionary phases in the life of a star; and second, these pre-ZAHB stars
more » ... re expected to overlap the loci occupied by asymptotic giant branch (AGB), HB, and RGB stars observed in the color-magnitude diagram (CMD). We investigate the possibility of detecting these stars through stellar pulsations, since some of them are expected to rapidly cross the Cepheid/RR Lyrae instability strip in their route from the RGB tip to the ZAHB, thus becoming pulsating stars along the way. As a consequence of their very high evolutionary speed, some of these stars may present anomalously large period change rates. We constructed an extensive grid of stellar models and produced pre-ZAHB Monte Carlo simulations appropriate for the case of the Galactic globular cluster M3 (NGC 5272), where a number of RR Lyrae stars with high period change rates are found. Our results suggest that some-but certainly not all-of the RR Lyrae stars in M3 with large period change rates are in fact pre-ZAHB pulsators.
doi:10.1007/978-90-481-9198-7_20 fatcat:2olliucbk5hpzkjqzdgk4u2uoq