Star-to-Star Abundance Variations among Bright Giants in the Mildly Metal-Poor Globular Cluster M4

Research paper by Inese I. Ivans, Christopher Sneden, Robert P. Kraft, Nicholas B. Suntzeff, Verne V. Smith, G. Edward Langer, Jon P. Fulbright, .

Indexed on: 27 May '99Published on: 27 May '99Published in: Astrophysics


We present a chemical composition analysis of 36 giants in the nearby mildy metal-poor (<[Fe/H]> = -1.18) "CN-bimodal" globular cluster M4. Confronted with a cluster that has large and variable interstellar extinction across the cluster face, we combined traditional spectroscopic abundance methods with modifications to line-depth ratio techniques to determine the atmospheric parameters of our stars. We derive a total-to-selective extinction ratio of 3.4 and an average <E(B-V)> reddening of 0.33 which is significantly lower than that estimated by using the dust maps made by Schlegel et al. (1998). Abundance ratios for Sc, Ti, V, Ni, & Eu are typical of halo field and cluster stars. However, Si, Al, Ba, & La are overabundant with respect to what is seen in other globular clusters of similar metallicity. Superimposed on the primordial abundance distribution is evidence for the existence of proton-capture synthesis. We recover some of the C, N, O, Na, Mg, & Al abundance swings and correlations found in other more metal-poor globular clusters but the range of variation is muted. The Al enhancements appear to be from the destruction of 25,26Mg, not 24Mg. The C+N+O abundance sum is constant to within the observational errors, and agrees with the C+N+O total that might be expected for M4 stars at birth. The M4 AGB stars have C,N,O abundances that show less evidence for proton- capture nucleosynthesis than is found in the less-evolved stars of the RGB. Deeply-mixed stars of the RGB, subsequent to the helium core flash, might take up residence on the blue end of the HB, and thus fail to evolve back to the AGB but reasons for skepticism concerning this scenario are noted.