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Astron. Astrophys. 346, 459-464 (1999)

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Differences in the fractions of Be stars in galaxies

André Maeder 1, Eva K. Grebel *  2,3 and Jean-Claude Mermilliod 4

1 Observatoire de Genève, CH-1290 Sauverny, Switzerland (Andre.Maeder@obs.unige.ch)
2 UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
3 University of Washington, Department of Astronomy, Box 351580, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
4 Institut d'Astronomie, UniL, CH-1290 Chavannes-des-Bois, Switzerland

Received 18 February 1998 / Accepted 23 March 1999


The number ratios [FORMULA] of Be to B-type stars in young, well studied clusters of the Galaxy, the LMC and SMC are examined. In order to disentangle age and metallicity effects we choose clusters in the same age interval and for which reliable photometric and spectroscopic data are available. Number counts are made for various magnitude intervals, and the results are found to be stable with respect to this choice. In the magnitude interval [FORMULA] to -1.4 (i.e. O9 to B3) we obtained a ratio [FORMULA] = 0.11, 0.19, 0.23, 0.39 for 21 clusters located in the interior of the Galaxy, the exterior of the Galaxy, the LMC and the SMC, respectively.

Various hypotheses for these differences are examined. An interesting possibility is that the average rotation is faster at low metallicities as a result of star formation processes. The much higher relative N-enrichment found by Venn et al. (1998) in A-type supergiants of the SMC, compared to galactic supergiants, also strongly supports the presence of more rotational mixing at low metallicities. We discuss whether high rotational mixing may be the source of primary nitrogen in the early chemical evolution of galaxies.

Key words: stars: emission-line, Be – stars: evolution – stars: rotation

* Hubble Fellow

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: May 21, 1999