Something borrowed, something blue: The nature of blue metal-poor stars inferred from their colours and chemical abundances ⋆,⋆⋆
1 Dark Cosmology Centre, The Niels Bohr Institute, Juliane Maries Vej 30, 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
2 Department of Physics, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster LA1 4YB, UK
3 Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
4 Núcleo de Astronomía, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad Diego Portales, Av. Ejército 441, Santiago, Chile
5 Carnegie Observatories, 813 Santa Barbara St., Pasadena, CA 91101, USA
6 Department of Astronomy, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station C1400, Austin, TX 78712, USA
Received: 31 August 2016
Accepted: 10 November 2016
Blue metal-poor (BMP) stars are main sequence stars that appear bluer and more luminous than normal turnoff stars. They were originally singled out by using B−V and U−B colour cuts.Early studies found that a larger fraction of field BMP stars were binaries compared to normal halo stars. Thus, BMP stars are ideal field blue straggler candidates for investigating internal stellar evolution processes and binary interaction. In particular, the presence or depletion in lithium in their spectra is a powerful indicator of their origin. They are either old, halo blue stragglers experiencing internal mixing processes or mass transfer (Li-depletion), or intermediate-age, single stars of possibly extragalactic origin (2.2 dex halo plateau Li). However, we note that internal mixing processes can lead to an increased level of Li. Hence, this study combines photometry and spectroscopy to unveil the origin of various BMP stars. We first show how to separate binaries from young blue stars using photometry, metallicity and lithium. Using a sample of 80 BMP stars (T > 6300 K), we find that 97% of the BMP binaries have V−Ks0 < 1.08 ± 0.03, while BMP stars that are not binaries lie above this cut in two thirds of the cases. This cut can help classify stars that lack radial velocities from follow-up observations. We then trace the origin of two BMP stars from the photometric sample by conducting a full chemical analysis using new high-resolution and high signal-to-noise spectra. Based on their radial velocities, Li, α and s- and r-process abundances we show that BPS CS22874-042 is a single star (A(Li) = 2.38 ± 0.10 dex) while with A(Li)= 2.23 ± 0.07 dex CD-48 2445 is a binary, contrary to earlier findings. Our analysis emphasises that field blue stragglers can be segregated from single metal-poor stars, using (V−Ks) colours with a fraction of single stars polluting the binary sample, but not vice versa. These two groups can only be properly separated by using information from stellar spectra, illustrating the need for accurate and precise stellar parameters and high-resolution, high-S/N spectra in order to fully understand and classify this intriguing class of stars. Our high-resolution spectrum analysis confirms the findings from the colour cuts and shows that CS 22874−042 is single, while CD −48 2445 is most likely a binary. Moreover, the stellar abundances show that both stars formed in situ; CS 22874−042 carries traces of massive star enrichment and CD −48 2445 shows indications of AGB mass transfer mixed with gases ejected possibly from neutron star mergers.
Key words: stars: abundances / blue stragglers / binaries: general / stars: fundamental parameters / stars: Population II / galaxies: halos
Based on UVES archive data 077.B-0507 and 090.B-0605. This paper includes data gathered with the 6.5 m Magellan Telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile.
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