There is increasing evidence that some massive globular clusters (GCs) host multiple stellar populations having different heavy element abundances enriched by supernovae. They usually accompany multiple red giant branches (RGBs) in the color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs), and are distinguished from most of the other GCs which display variations only in light element abundances. In order to investigate the star formation histories of these peculiar GCs, we have constructed synthetic CMDs for ω Cen, M22, and NGC 1851. Our models are based on the updated versions of Yonsei-Yale (Y2) isochrones and horizontal branch (HB) evolutionary tracks which include the cases of enhancements in both helium and the total CNO abundances. To estimate ages and helium abundances of subpopulations in each GC, we have compared our models with the observations on the Hess diagram by employing a χ2 minimization technique. We find that metal-rich subpopulations in each of these GCs are also enhanced in helium abundance, and the age differences between the metal-rich and metal-poor subpopulations are fairly small (∼0.3-1.7 Gyr), even in the models with the observed variations in the total CNO content. These are required to simultaneously reproduce the observed extended HB and the splits on the main sequence, subgiant branch, and RGB. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that these GCs are the relics of more massive primeval dwarf galaxies that merged and disrupted to form the proto-Galaxy.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science