Lithium-Rich Giants in Globular Clusters
Although red giants deplete lithium on their surfaces, some giants are Li-rich. Intermediate-mass asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars can generate Li through the Cameron–Fowler conveyor, but the existence of Li-rich, low-mass red giant branch (RGB) stars is puzzling. Globular clusters are the best sites to examine this phenomenon because it is straightforward to determine membership in the cluster and to identify the evolutionary state of each star. In 72 hours of Keck/DEIMOS exposures in 25 clusters, we found four Li-rich RGB and two Li-rich AGB stars. There were 1696 RGB and 125 AGB stars with measurements or upper limits consistent with normal abundances of Li. Hence, the frequency of Li-richness in globular clusters is (0.2 ± 0.1)% for the RGB, (1.6 ± 1.1)% for the AGB, and (0.3 ± 0.1)% for all giants. Because the Li-rich RGB stars are on the lower RGB, Li self-generation mechanisms proposed to occur at the luminosity function bump or He core flash cannot explain these four lower RGB stars. We propose the following origin for Li enrichment: (1) All luminous giants experience a brief phase of Li enrichment at the He core flash. (2) All post-RGB stars with binary companions on the lower RGB will engage in mass transfer. This scenario predicts that 0.1% of lower RGB stars will appear Li-rich due to mass transfer from a recently Li-enhanced companion. This frequency is at the lower end of our confidence interval.
Additional Information© 2016 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2015 October 5; accepted 2016 January 14; published 2016 March 8. The data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. This manuscript is dedicated to the memory of Bob Kraft. We are grateful to Bob for his mentorship and his inspirational discovery of a Li-rich red giant in M3. We thank the colloquium audience at Steward Observatory for helpful feedback. We also thank the anonymous referee for a detailed, thoughtful report that improved this article. AJZ, JH, MG, and RG carried out their work through UCSC's Science Internship Program for high school students. PG acknowledges support from NSF grants AST-1010039 and AST-1412648. We are grateful to the many people who have worked to make the Keck Telescope and its instruments a reality and to operate and maintain the Keck Observatory. The authors wish to extend special thanks to those of Hawaiian ancestry on whose sacred mountain we are privileged to be guests. Without their generous hospitality, none of the observations presented herein would have been possible. Facility: Keck:II (DEIMOS).
Published - apj_819_2_135.pdf
Submitted - 1601.01315v2.pdf