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A New Formation Mechanism for the Hottest Horizontal-Branch StarsHot subluminous stars lying up to 0.7 mag below the extreme horizontal branch (EHB) are found in the ultraviolet color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) of both omega Cen and NGC 2808. In order to investigate the origin of these subluminous stars, we have constructed a detailed set of evolutionary sequences that follow the evolution of low-mass stars continuously from the zero-age main sequence through the helium-core flash to the HB for a wide range in the mass loss along the red-giant branch (RGB). Stars with the largest mass loss evolve off the RGB to high effective temperatures before igniting helium in their cores. Our results indicate that the subluminous EHB stars, as well as the high temperature gap along the EHB of NGC 2808, can be explained if these stars undergo a late helium-core flash while descending the white-dwarf cooling curve. Under these conditions the convection zone produced by the main helium flash will penetrate into the stellar envelope, thereby mixing most, if not all, of the envelope hydrogen into the hot helium-burning interior, where it is rapidly consumed. This phenomenon is analogous to the 'born-again' scenario for producing hydrogen-deficient stars following a very late helium-shell flash. This 'flash mixing' of the envelope during a late helium-core flash greatly enhances the envelope helium and carbon abundances and, as a result, leads to a discontinuous increase in the HB effective temperature. We argue that the hot HB gap observed in NGC 2808 is associated with this theoretically predicted dichotomy in the RB properties. Using new helium- and carbon-rich stellar atmospheres, we show that the changes in the envelope abundances due to flash mixing will suppress the ultraviolet flux in the spectra of hot EHB stars. We suggest that such changes in the emergent spectral energy distribution are primarily responsible for explaining the hot subluminous EHB stars in omega Cen and NGC 2808. Moreover, we demonstrate that models without flash mixing lie, at most, only approximately 0.1 mag below the EHB, and hence fail to explain the observations.
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Sweigart, Allen V. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Oegerle, William R.
Date Acquired
August 20, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2002
Subject Category
Meeting Information
New Horizons Globular Cluster Astronomy(Padova)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.