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      Is the Escape Velocity in Star Clusters Linked to Extended Star Formation Histories? Using NGC 7252: W3 as a Test Case

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          Abstract

          The colour-magnitude diagrams of some intermediate-age clusters (1-2 Gyr) star clusters show unexpectedly broad main-sequence turnoffs, raising the possibility that these clusters have experienced more than one episode of star formation. Such a scenario predicts the existence of an extended main sequence turn off (eMSTO) only in clusters with escape velocities above a certain threshold (\(>15\) km s\(^{-1}\)), which would allow them to retain or accrete gas that eventually would fuel a secondary extended star-formation episode. This paper presents a test of this scenario based on the study of the young and massive cluster NGC 7252: W3. We use the HST photometry from WFPC2 and WFC3 images obtained with UV and optical filters, as well as MagE echellette spectrograph data from the Las Campanas Clay 6.5m telescope, in order to construct the observed UV/optical SED of NGC 7252: W3. The observations are then compared with synthetic spectra based on different star formation histories consistent with those of the eMSTO clusters. We find that the SED of this cluster is best fitted by a synthetic spectrum with a single stellar population of age \(570^{+70}_{-62}\) Myr and mass \(1.13^{+0.14}_{-0.13}\times 10^8\) M\(_\odot\), confirming earlier works on NGC 7252: W3. We also estimate the lower limit on the central escape velocity of 193 km s\(^{-1}\). We rule out extended star-formation histories, like those inferred for the eMSTO clusters in the Magellanic Clouds, at high confidence. We conclude that the escape velocity of a cluster does not dictate whether a cluster can undergo extended periods of star formation.

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          A double main sequence turn-off in the rich star cluster NGC 1846 in the Large Magellanic Cloud

          We report on HST/ACS photometry of the rich intermediate-age star cluster NGC 1846 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which clearly reveals the presence of a double main sequence turn-off in this object. Despite this, the main sequence, sub-giant branch, and red giant branch are all narrow and well-defined, and the red clump is compact. We examine the spatial distribution of turn-off stars and demonstrate that all belong to NGC 1846 rather than to any field star population. In addition, the spatial distributions of the two sets of turn-off stars may exhibit different central concentrations and some asymmetries. By fitting isochrones, we show that the properties of the colour-magnitude diagram can be explained if there are two stellar populations of equivalent metal abundance in NGC 1846, differing in age by approximately 300 Myr. The absolute ages of the two populations are ~1.9 and ~2.2 Gyr, although there may be a systematic error of up to +/-0.4 Gyr in these values. The metal abundance inferred from isochrone fitting is [M/H] ~ -0.40, consistent with spectroscopic measurements of [Fe/H]. We propose that the observed properties of NGC 1846 can be explained if this object originated via the tidal capture of two star clusters formed separately in a star cluster group in a single giant molecular cloud. This scenario accounts naturally for the age difference and uniform metallicity of the two member populations, as well as the differences in their spatial distributions.
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            Journal
            1601.02024
            10.1093/mnras/stv2977

            Cosmology & Extragalactic astrophysics, Galaxy astrophysics

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