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The environment of formation as a second parameter for globular cluster classification

Abstract : We perform an evolutionary multivariate analysis of a sample of 54 Galactic globular clusters with high-quality colour-magnitude diagrams and well-determined ages. The four parameters adopted for the analysis are: metallicity, age, maximum temperature on the horizontal branch, and absolute V magnitude. Our cladistic analysis breaks the sample into three novel groups. An a posteriori kinematical analysis puts groups 1 and 2 in the halo, and group 3 in the thick disc. The halo and disc clusters separately follow a luminosity-metallicity relation of much weaker slope than galaxies. This property is used to propose a new criterion for distinguishing halo and disc clusters. A comparison of the distinct properties of the two halo groups with those of Galactic halo field stars indicates that the clusters of group 1 originated in the inner halo, while those of group 2 formed in the outer halo of the Galaxy. The inner halo clusters were presumably initially the most massive one, which allowed the formation of more strongly helium-enriched second generation stars, thus explaining the presence of Cepheids and of very hot horizontal-branch stars exclusively in this group. We thus conclude that the ``second parameter" is linked to the environment in which globular clusters form, the inner halo favouring the formation of the most massive clusters which subsequently become more strongly self-enriched than their counterparts of the galactic outer halo and disc.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 11, 2009 - 3:46:41 PM
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Didier Fraix-Burnet, Emmanuel Davoust, Corinne Charbonnel. The environment of formation as a second parameter for globular cluster classification. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2009, 398, pp.1706-1714. ⟨10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15235.x⟩. ⟨hal-00394425⟩



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