arXiv: Astrophysics

First stars as a possible origin for the helium-rich population in omega Centauri

Publication Date Nov 6, 2006


The most massive Galactic globular cluster omega Cen appears to have two, or perhaps more, distinct main sequences. Its bluest main sequence is at the centre of debate because it has been suggested to have an extremely high helium abundance of Y ~ 0.4. The same helium abundance is claimed to explain the presence of extreme horizontal branch stars of omega Cen as well. This demands a relative helium to metal enrichment of deltaY/deltaZ ~ 70; that is, more than one order of magnitude larger than the generally accepted value. Candidate solutions, namely, AGB stars, massive stars, and supernovae, have been suggested; but in this study, we show that none of them is a viable channel, in terms of reproducing the high value of deltaY/deltaZ for the constrained age difference between the red and blue populations. Essentially no populations with an ordinary initial mass function, including those candidates, can produce such a high deltaY/deltaZ because they all produce metals as well as helium. As an alternative, we investigate the possibility of the stochastic ``first star'' contamination to the gas from which the younger generation of omega Cen formed. This requires the assumption that Population III star formation episode overlaps with that of Population II. While the required condition appears extreme, very massive objects in the first star generation provide a solution that is at least as plausible as any other suggestions made before.


Bluest Main Sequence Omega Cen AGB Stars Blue Populations Helium Abundance Candidate Solutions Massive Objects Main Sequence Massive Globular Cluster Massive Stars

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