Blue hook stars in globular clusters

A. Dieball, C. Knigge, T. J. Maccarone, K. S. Long, D. C. Hannikainen, D. Zurek, M. Shara

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Blue hook (BHk) stars are a rare class of horizontal branch stars that have so far been found in only very few Galactic globular clusters (GCs). The dominant mechanism for producing these objects is currently still unclear. In order to test if the presence of BHk populations in a given GC is linked to specific physical or structural cluster properties, we have constructed a parent sample of GCs for which existing data are sufficient to establish the presence or absence of BHk populations with confidence. We then compare the properties of those clusters in our parent sample that do contain a BHk population to those that do not. We find that there is only one compelling difference between BHk and non-BHk clusters: all known BHk clusters are unusually massive. However, we also find that the BHk clusters are consistent with being uniformly distributed within the cumulative mass distribution of the parent sample. Thus, while it is attractive to suggest that there is a lower mass cut-off for clusters capable of forming BHk stars, the data do not require this. Instead, the apparent preference for massive clusters could still be a purely statistical effect: intrinsically rare objects can only be found by searching a sufficiently large number of stars.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L56-L60
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2009


  • Globular clusters: general
  • Stars: horizontal branch


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