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Daytona Beach


Department of Physical Sciences

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We use Cycle 21 Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations and HST archival ACS Treasury observations of 30 Galactic globular clusters to characterize two distinct stellar populations. A sophisticated Bayesian technique is employed to simultaneously sample the joint posterior distribution of age, distance, and extinction for each cluster, as well as unique helium values for two populations within each cluster and the relative proportion of those populations. We find the helium differences among the two populations in the clusters fall in the range of ∼0.04 to 0.11. Because adequate models varying in carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen are not presently available, we view these spreads as upper limits and present them with statistical rather than observational uncertainties. Evidence supports previous studies suggesting an increase in helium content concurrent with increasing mass of the cluster and we also find that the proportion of the first population of stars increases with mass as well. Our results are examined in the context of proposed globular cluster formation scenarios. Additionally, we leverage our Bayesian technique to shed light on the inconsistencies between the theoretical models and the observed data.

Publication Title

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society



Oxford Academic

Required Publisher’s Statement

CC BY Royal Astronomical Society