On potassium and other abundance anomalies of red giants in NGC 2419

C Iliadis, A I Karakas, N Prantzos, J C Lattanzio, C L Doherty

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Globular clusters are of paramount importance for testing theories of stellar evolution and early galaxy formation. Strong evidence for multiple populations of stars in globular clusters derives from observed abundance anomalies. A puzzling example is the recently detected Mg-K anticorrelation in NGC 2419. We perform Monte Carlo nuclear reaction network calculations to constrain the temperature-density conditions that gave rise to the elemental abundances observed in this elusive cluster. We find a correlation between stellar temperature and density values that provide a satisfactory match between simulated and observed abundances in NGC 2419 for all relevant elements (Mg, Si, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, and V). Except at the highest densities (ρ ≳ 108 g cm-3), the acceptable conditions range from ≈100 MK at ≈108 g cm-3 to ≈200 MK at ≈10-4 g cm-3. This result accounts for uncertainties in nuclear reaction rates and variations in the assumed initial composition. We review hydrogen-burning sites and find that low-mass stars, asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars, massive stars, or supermassive stars cannot account for the observed abundance anomalies in NGC 2419. Super-AGB stars could be viable candidates for the polluter stars if stellar model parameters can be fine-tuned to produce higher temperatures. Novae, involving either CO or ONe white dwarfs, could be interesting polluter candidates, but a current lack of low-metallicity nova models precludes firmer conclusions. We also discuss whether additional constraints for the first-generation polluters can be obtained by future measurements of oxygen, or by evolving models of second-generation low-mass stars with a non-canonical initial composition.
Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • globular clusters: general
  • globular clusters: individual (NGC 2419)
  • stars: abundances
  • stars: Population II

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