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Published November 20, 2012 | Submitted + Published + Erratum
Journal Article Open

The Bizarre Chemical Inventory of NGC 2419, An Extreme Outer Halo Globular Cluster


We present new Keck/HIRES observations of six red giants in the globular cluster (GC) NGC 2419. Although the cluster is among the most distant and most luminous in the Milky Way, it was considered chemically ordinary until very recently. Our previous work showed that the near-infrared Ca II triplet line strength varied more than expected for a chemically homogeneous cluster, and that at least one star had unusual abundances of Mg and K. Here, we confirm that NGC 2419 harbors a population of stars, comprising about one-third of its mass, that is depleted in Mg by a factor of eight and enhanced in K by a factor of six with respect to the Mg-normal population. Although the majority, Mg-normal population appears to have a chemical abundance pattern indistinguishable from ordinary, inner-halo GCs, the Mg-poor population exhibits dispersions of several elements. The abundances of K and Sc are strongly anti-correlated with Mg, and some other elements (Si and Ca among others) are weakly anti-correlated with Mg. These abundance patterns suggest that the different populations of NGC 2419 sample the ejecta of diverse supernovae in addition to asymptotic giant branch ejecta. However, the abundances of Fe-peak elements except Sc show no star-to-star variation. We find no nucleosynthetic source that satisfactorily explains all of the abundance variations in this cluster. Because NGC 2419 appears like no other GC, we reiterate our previous suggestion that it is not a GC at all, but rather the core of an accreted dwarf galaxy.

Additional Information

© 2012 American Astronomical Society. Received 2012 July 24; accepted 2012 September 12; published 2012 November 6. Based in part on observations obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated jointly by the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. 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. We thank S. Woosley for a helpful conversation on the nucleosynthetic origin of potassium. J.G.C. thanks NSF Grant AST-0908139 for partial support. Work by E.N.K. was supported by NASA through Hubble Fellowship Grant HST-HF-01233.01 awarded to E.N.K. by the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., for NASA, under contract NAS 5-26555.

Attached Files

Published - 0004-637X_760_1_86.pdf

Submitted - 1209.2705v1.pdf

Erratum - 0004-637X_793_1_69.pdf


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August 22, 2023
October 23, 2023