Wednesday, July 10, 2013

1307.2236 (Felipe A. Santana et al.)

A Megacam Survey of Outer Halo Satellites. II. Blue Stragglers in the Lowest Stellar Density Systems    [PDF]

Felipe A. Santana, Ricardo R. Munoz, Marla Geha, Patrick Cote, Peter Stetson, Joshua D. Simon, S. G. Djorgovski
We present a homogeneous study of blue straggler stars across ten outer halo globular clusters, three classical dwarf spheroidal and nine ultra-faint galaxies based on deep and wide-field photometric data taken with MegaCam on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. We find blue straggler stars to be ubiquitous among these Milky Way satellites. Based on these data, we can test the importance of primordial binaries or multiple systems on blue straggler star formation in low density environments. For the outer halo globular clusters we find an anti-correlation between the specific frequency of blue straggler and absolute magnitude, similar to that previously observed for inner halo clusters. When plotted against density and encounter rate, the frequency of blue stragglers are well fitted by single trends with smooth transitions between dwarf galaxies and globular clusters, which points to a common origin for their blue stragglers. The fraction of blue stragglers stays constant and high in the low encounter rate regime spanned by our dwarf galaxies, and decreases with density and encounter rate in the range spanned by our globular clusters. We find that young stars can mimic blue stragglers in dwarf galaxies only if their ages are 2.5+/-0.5 Gyr and they represent ~1-7% of the total number of stars, which we deem highly unlikely. These results point to mass-transfer or mergers of primordial binaries or multiple systems as the dominant blue straggler formation mechanism in low density systems.
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