The Not so Simple Stellar System ω Cen. II. Evidence in Support of a Merging Scenario

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We present multiband photometry covering ∼5° × 5° across ω Cen collected with the Dark Energy Camera on the 4 m Blanco telescope, combined with Hubble Space Telescope and Wide Field Imager data for the central regions. The unprecedented photometric accuracy and field coverage allows us to confirm the different spatial distribution of blue and red main-sequence stars, and of red giant branch (RGB) stars with different metallicities. The ratio of the number of blue to red main-sequence stars shows that the blue main-sequence stellar subpopulation has a more extended spatial distribution compared to the red main-sequence one, with the frequency of blue main-sequence stars increasing at a distance of ∼20′ from ω Cen's center. Similarly, the more metal-rich RGB stars show a more extended spatial distribution compared to the more metal-poor ones in the outskirts of the cluster. Moreover, the centers of the distributions of metal-rich and metal-poor RGB stars are shifted in different directions with respect to the geometrical center of ω Cen. We constructed stellar density profiles for the blue and red main-sequence stars; they show that the blue main-sequence stellar subpopulation has a more extended spatial distribution compared to the red main-sequence one in the outskirts of ω Cen, confirming the results based on the number ratio. We also computed the ellipticity profile of ω Cen, which has a maximum value of 0.16 at a distance of ∼8′ from the center, and a minimum of 0.05 at ∼30′; the average ellipticity is ∼0.10. The circumstantial evidence presented in this work suggests a merging scenario for the formation of the peculiar stellar system ω Cen.


  • Annalisa Calamida
  • Alice Zocchi
  • Giuseppe Bono
  • Ivan Ferraro
  • Alessandra Mastrobuono-Battisti
  • Abhijit Saha
  • Giacinto Iannicola
  • Armin Rest
  • Giovanni Strampelli
  • Alfredo Zenteno
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Space Telescope Science Institute
  • European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA/ESTEC)
  • University of Rome Tor Vergata
  • INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Roma
  • Max Planck Institute for Astronomy
  • National Optical Astronomy Observatory
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • University of La Laguna (ULL)
  • Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, NOAO

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Astronomi, astrofysik och kosmologi
TidskriftAstrophysical Journal
Utgåva nummer2
StatusPublished - 2020 mar 17
Peer review utfördJa