Searching For Chemical Signatures Of Multiple Stellar Populations In The Old, Massive Open Cluster NGC 6791

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Bragaglia, Angela
Sneden, Christopher
Carretta, Eugenio
Gratton, Raffaele G.
Lucatello, Sara
Bernath, Peter F.
Brooke, James S. A.
Ram, Ram S.

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Galactic open and globular clusters (OCs, GCs) appear to inhabit separate regions of the age-mass plane. However, the transition between them is not easily defined because there is some overlap between high-mass, old OCs and low-mass, young GCs. We are exploring the possibility of a clear-cut separation between OCs and GCs using an abundance feature that has been found so far only in GCs: (anti) correlations between light elements. Among the coupled abundance trends, the Na-O anticorrelation is the most widely studied. These anticorrelations are the signature of self-enrichment, i.e., of a formation mechanism that implies multiple generations of stars. Here we concentrate on the old, massive, metal-rich OC NGC 6791. We analyzed archival Keck/HIRES spectra of 15 NGC 6791 main-sequence turnoff and evolved stars, concentrating on the derivation of C, N, O, and Na abundances. We also used WIYN/Hydra spectra of 21 evolved stars (one is in common). Given the spectral complexity of the very metal-rich NGC 6791 stars, we employed spectrum synthesis to measure most of the abundances. We confirmed the cluster super-solar metallicity and abundances of Ca and Ni that have been derived in past studies. More importantly, we did not detect any significant star-to-star abundance dispersion in C, N, O, and Na. Based on the absence of a clear Na-O anticorrelation, NGC 6791 can still be considered a true OC, hosting a single generation of stars and not a low-mass GC.



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Bragaglia, Angela, Christopher Sneden, Eugenio Carretta, Raffaele G. Gratton, Sara Lucatello, Peter F. Bernath, James SA Brooke, and Ram S. Ram. "Searching for Chemical Signatures of Multiple Stellar Populations in the Old, Massive Open Cluster NGC 6791." The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 796, No. 1 (Nov., 2014): 68.