Hubble Space Telescope FUV observations of M31's globular clusters suggest a spatially homogeneous helium-enriched subpopulation

Mark B. Peacock, Stephen E. Zepf, Thomas J. Maccarone, Arunav Kundu, Christian Knigge, Andrea Dieball, Jay Strader

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We present high spatial resolution, far ultraviolet (FUV) F140LP observations of 12 massive globular clusters inM31 obtained using the ACS/SBC on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). These observations resolve the cluster profiles to scales similar to their core radii and enable the study of the spatial distribution of blue and extreme horizontal branch (HB) stars, which dominate the emission in the F140LP images. We confirm that some of these clusters have excess FUV emission, suggesting additional hot populations beyond those expected by canonical single stellar population models.We find no evidence that the hot populations are spatially distinct from the majority populations in these clusters, as would be expected if the excess FUV emission is a result of a dynamically enhanced population of extreme-HB stars. We conclude that a second population of stars with significantly enhanced helium abundance is a viable explanation for the observed FUV emission that is both bright and distributed similarly to the rest of the cluster light. Our results support the use of FUV observations as a path to characterizing helium-enhanced subpopulations in extragalactic clusters. These M31 clusters also show a correlation such that more massive and denser clusters are relatively FUV bright. Similar to extant Milky Way results, this may indicate the degree of helium enrichment, or second population fraction increases with cluster mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3313-3324
Number of pages12
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 11 2018


  • Galaxies: individual:M31
  • Galaxies: star clusters: general
  • Globular clusters: general
  • Stars: horizontal branch
  • Ultraviolet: galaxies


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