Chemical abundances in giants stars of the tidally disrupted globular cluster NGC 6712 from high-resolution infrared spectroscopy

David Yong, Jorge Meléndez, Katia Cunha, Amanda I. Karakas, John E. Norris, Verne V. Smith

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We present abundances of C, N, O, F, Na, and Fe in six giant stars of the tidally disrupted globular cluster NGC 6712. The abundances were derived by comparing synthetic spectra with high-resolution infrared spectra obtained with the Phoenix spectrograph on the Gemini South telescope. We find large star-to-star abundance variations of the elements C, N, O, F, and Na. NGC 6712 and M4 are the only globular clusters in which F has been measured in more than two stars, and both clusters reveal F abundance variations whose amplitude is comparable to or exceeds that of O, a pattern which may be produced in M ≳ 5 M{bull's eye} AGB stars. Within the limited samples, the F abundance in globular clusters is lower than in field and bulge stars at the same metallicity. NGC 6712 and Pal 5 are tidally disrupted globular clusters whose red giant members exhibit O and Na abundance variations not seen in comparable metallicity field stars. Therefore, globular clusters such as NGC 6712 and Pal 5 cannot contribute many field stars and/or field stars do not form in environments with chemical enrichment histories like those of NGC 6712 and Pal 5. Although our sample size is small, from the amplitude of the O and Na abundance variations we infer a large initial cluster mass and tentatively confirm that NGC 6712 was once one of the most massive globular clusters in our Galaxy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1020-1030
Number of pages11
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxy: abundances
  • Globular clusters: individual (Messier Number: NGC 6712)
  • Stars: abundances

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