Discovery of a double sequence of blue straggler stars in the core-collapsed globular cluster NGC 6256

Mario Cadelano, Francesco R. Ferraro, Emanuele Dalessandro, Barbara Lanzoni, Cristina Pallanca, Sara Saracino

Submitted on 4 November 2022


We used a combination of high-resolution optical images acquired with the Hubble Space Telescope and near-IR wide-field data to investigate the stellar density profile and the population of blue straggler star (BSS) in the Galactic globular cluster NGC6256, with the aim of probing its current stage of internal dynamical evolution. We found that the inner stellar density profile significantly deviates from a King model while is well reproduced by a steep cusp with a power-law slope alpha=-0.89, thus implying that the cluster is currently in the post core-collapse (PCC) phase. This is also confirmed by the very high segregation level of the BSS population measured through the A+ parameter. We also found that the distribution of BSSs in the color-magnitude diagram is characterized by a collimated blue sequence and a red more sparse component, as already observed in other three PCC clusters. The comparison with appropriate collisional models demonstrates that the vast majority of the BSSs lying along the collimated blue sequence is consistent with a generation of coeval (1 Gyr-old) stars with different masses originated by an event that highly enhanced the collisional rate of the system (i.e. the core collapse). This study confirms that the segregation level of BSSs is a powerful dynamical diagnostic also of star cluster in a very advanced stage of dynamical evolution. Moreover, it pushes forward the possibility of using the morphology of the BSS in the color-magnitude diagram as a tracer of the core-collapse and subsequent dynamical evolutionary phases.


Comment: Accepted for publication in ApJ

Subjects: Astrophysics - Solar and Stellar Astrophysics; Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies