Exploring the white dwarf cooling sequence in Globular Clusters

Chen, Jianxing (2023) Exploring the white dwarf cooling sequence in Globular Clusters, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Astrofisica, 35 Ciclo. DOI 10.48676/unibo/amsdottorato/11019.
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White dwarfs (WDs) are electron-degenerate structures that are commonly assumed to evolve via a pure cooling process, with no stable thermonuclear activity at work. Their cooling rate is adopted as a cosmic chronometer to constrain the age of several Galactic populations, including the disk, Globular Clusters (GCs) and open clusters. This thesis work is aimed at the study of the WD populations in globular clusters and is articulated in two branches. The first was focused on the study of the bright portion of the WD cooling sequence. By analyzing high resolution UV data acquired with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), we compared the WD luminosity functions (LFs) in four Galactic GCs (namely M13, M3, NGC6752, and M5) finding an unexpected over-abundance of WDs in M13 and NGC6752 with respect to M3 and M5. Theoretical models suggest that, consistently with the blue-tail horizontal branch (HB) morphology of M13 and NGC6752, this overabundance is due to a population of slowly cooling WDs, i.e., WDs fading more slowly than in a pure cooling process thanks to an extra-energy source provided by stable thermonuclear burning in their residual hydrogen-rich envelope. This is the first empirical evidence of WDs fading at a slower rate than usually assumed, and has a crucial impact on the use of the cooling sequence as a cosmic chronometer. The second branch was focused on the search for the companion star to binary millisecond Pulsars (MSP) in the globular clusters M13 and NGC 6652: the identified companions turned out to be helium-core WDs, and provided a invaluable constraints on the mass of the neutron star and the epoch of the MSP formation.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Chen, Jianxing
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Globular star clusters, Hertzsprung Russell diagram, White dwarf stars, Ultraviolet photometry
Data di discussione
30 Giugno 2023

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