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Astron. Astrophys. 343, 825-830 (1999)

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Near IR photometry of the old open clusters Berkeley 17 and Berkeley 18 *

Probing the age of the Galactic Disc

Giovanni Carraro 1, Antonella Vallenari 2, Léo Girardi 3 and Andrea Richichi 4

1 Dipartimento di Astronomia, Universitá di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, I-35122 Padova, Italy (carraro@pd.astro.it)
2 Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell'Osservatorio 5, I-35122 Padova, Italy (vallenari@pd.astro.it)
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Strasse 1 D-87548 Garching bei München, Germany (leo@mpa-garching.mpg.de)
4 Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri, Largo E. Fermi 5, I-50125 Firenze, Italy (richichi@arcetri.astro.it)

Received 6 November 1998 / Accepted 22 December 1998


We report on near IR (J and K bands) observations of two [FORMULA] regions centered on the old open clusters Berkeley 17 and Berkeley 18, for which only optical photometry (in B,V and I bands) exists. J and K photometry allows us to obtain an independent estimate of cluster metallicity by means of the relationship between the spectroscopic metallicity and the Red Giant Branch (RGB) slope calibrated by Tiede et al. (1997).

From the analysis of the colour magnitude diagram (CMD) and luminosity function (LF), Berkeley 17 turns out to have a metal content [FORMULA]. It is [FORMULA] old, suffers from a reddening [FORMULA] and has an heliocentric distance of [FORMULA]. Berkeley 17 comes out to be substantially younger than in previous work (age [FORMULA]).

On the other hand Berkeley 18 is found to have solar metal abundance, and to be younger than Berkeley 17, with an age of about [FORMULA]. While we confirm Kaluzny (1997) reddening estimate, we significantly revise the distance of the cluster, which lies [FORMULA] from the Sun. These results on two open clusters believed to be between the oldest put constraints on the age and the evolution of the Galactic Disc. The absence of clusters older than [FORMULA] suggests the possibility that the Galaxy underwent a star formation minimum between 13 and [FORMULA] ago.

Key words: Galaxy: evolution – Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: Ber 17 – Galaxy: open clusters and associations: individual: Ber 18

* Based on observations taken at TIRGO.

Send offprint requests to: Giovanni Carraro (carraro@pd.astro.it)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 1, 1999