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Astron. Astrophys. 363, 526-536 (2000)

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The Old Halo metallicity gradient: the trace of a self-enrichment process

G. Parmentier, E. Jehin, P. Magain, A. Noels and A.A. Thoul *

Institut d'Astrophysique et de Géophysique, Université de Liège, 5, Avenue de Cointe, 4000 Liège, Belgium

Received 26 June 2000 / Accepted 11 September 2000


Based on a model of globular cluster self-enrichment published in a previous paper, we present an explanation for the metallicity gradient observed throughout the galactic Old Halo. Our self-enrichment model is based on the ability of globular cluster progenitor clouds to retain the ejecta of a first generation of Type II Supernovae. The key point is that this ability depends on the pressure exerted on the progenitor cloud by the surrounding protogalactic medium and therefore on the location of the cloud in the protoGalaxy. Since there is no significant (if any) metallicity gradient in the whole halo, we also present a review in favour of a galactic halo partly built via accretions and mergers of satellite systems. Some of them bear their own globular clusters and therefore "contaminate" the system of globular clusters formed "in situ", namely within the original potential well of the Galaxy. Therefore, the comparison between our self-enrichment model and the observational data should be limited to the genuine galactic globular clusters, the so-called Old Halo group.

Key words: Galaxy: evolution – Galaxy: formation – Galaxy: globular clusters: general – Galaxy: halo

* Chercheur qualifié au Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (Belgium)

Send offprint requests to: G. Parmentier (g.parmentier@ulg.ac.be)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 2000

Online publication: December 11, 2000