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Neutron-capture element deficiency of the Hercules dwarf spheroidal galaxy

By Koch, A., Feltzing, S., Adén, D., Matteucci and F.

Abstract

We present an assessment of the barium abundance ratios for red giant member stars in the faint Hercules dwarf spheroidal (dSph) galaxy. Our results are drawn from intermediate-resolution FLAMES/GIRAFFE spectra around the Ba II 6141.71 Å absorption line at low signal-to-noise ratios. For three brighter stars we were able to gain estimates from direct equivalent-width measurements, while for the remaining eight stars only upper limits could be obtained. These results are investigated in a statistical manner and indicate very low Ba abundances of log ɛ(Ba) ≲ 0.7 dex (3σ). We discuss various possible systematic biasses, first and foremost, a blend with the Fe I 6141.73 Å-line, but most of those would only lead to even lower abundances. A better match with metal-poor halo and dSph stars can only be reached by including a large uncertainty in the continuum placement. This contrasts with the high dispersions in iron and calcium (in excess of 1 dex) in this galaxy. While the latter spreads are typical of the very low luminosity, dark-matter dominated dSphs, a high level of depletion in heavy elements suggests that chemical enrichment in Hercules was governed by very massive stars, coupled with a very low star formation efficiency. While very low abundances of some heavy elements are also found in individual stars of other dwarf galaxies, this is the first time that a very low Ba abundance is found within an entire dSph over a broad metallicity range. Based on observations carried out at the European Southern Observatory under proposal number 083.D-0688(A)

Topics: stars: abundances, stars: Population II, nuclear reactions, nucleosynthesis, abundances, galaxies: evolution, galaxies: dwarf, galaxies: individual: Hercules
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1051/0004-6361
OAI identifier: oai:arts.units.it:11368/2751308
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