Ca II Triplet Spectroscopy of Large Magellanic Cloud Red Giants. I. Abundances and Velocities for a Sample of Populous Clusters
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Grocholski, AJ and Cole, AA and Sarajedini, A and Geisler, D and Smith, VV, Ca II Triplet Spectroscopy of Large Magellanic Cloud Red Giants. I. Abundances and Velocities for a Sample of Populous Clusters, The Astronomical Journal, 132, (4) pp. 1630-1644. ISSN 0004-6256 (2006) [Refereed Article]
Using the FORS2 instrument on the Very Large Telescope, we have obtained near-infrared spectra for more than 200 stars in 28 populous LMC clusters. This cluster sample spans a large range of ages (∼1-13 Gyr) and metallicities (-0.3 ≳ Fe/H] ≳ -2.0) and has good areal coverage of the LMC disk. The strong absorption lines of the Ca II triplet are used to derive cluster radial velocities and abundances. We determine mean cluster velocities to typically 1.6 km s -1 and mean metallicities to 0.04 dex (random error). For eight of these clusters, we report the first spectroscopically determined metallicities based on individual cluster stars, and six of these eight have no published radial velocity measurements. Combining our data with archival Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 photometry, we find that the newly measured cluster, NGC 1718, is one of the most metal-poor ([Fe/H] ∼ -0.80) intermediate-age (∼2 Gyr) inner disk clusters in the LMC. Similar to what was found by previous authors, this cluster sample has radial velocities consistent with that of a single rotating disk system, with no indication that the newly reported clusters exhibit halo kinematics. In addition, our findings confirm previous results that show that the LMC lacks the metallicity gradient typically seen in nonbarred spiral galaxies, suggesting that the bar is driving the mixing of stellar populations in the LMC. However, in contrast to previous work, we find that the higher metallicity clusters (≳ -1.0 dex) in our sample show a very tight distribution (mean [Fe/H] = -0.48, σ = 0.09), with no tail toward solar metallicities. The cluster distribution is similar to what has been found for red giant stars in the bar, which indicates that the bar and the intermediate-age clusters have similar star formation histories. This is in good agreement with recent theoretical models that suggest the bar and intermediate-age clusters formed as a result of a close encounter with the SMC ∼4 Gyr ago. © 2006. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
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