Carbon abundances for red giants in the Draco dwarf spheroidal galaxy

Matthew D. Shetrone, Graeme H. Smith, Laura M. Stanford, Michael H. Siegel, Howard E. Bond

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Measurements of [C/Fe], [Ca/H], and [Fe/H] have been derived from Keck I LRISb spectra of 35 giants in the Draco dwarf spheroidal galaxy. The iron abundances are derived by a spectrum synthesis modeling of the wavelength region from 4850 to 5375 Å, while calcium and carbon abundances are obtained by fitting the Ca II H and K lines and the CH G band, respectively. A range in metallicity of -2.9 ≤ [Fe/H] ≤ -1.6 is found within the giants sampled, with a good correlation between [Fe/H] and [Ca/H]. The great majority of stars in the sample would be classified as having weak absorption in the λ3883 CN band, with only a small scatter in band strengths at a given luminosity on the red giant branch. In this sense the behavior of CN among the Draco giants is consistent with the predominantly weak CN bands found among red giants in globular clusters of metallicity [Fe/H] < -1.8. Over half of the giants in the Draco sample have [Fe/H] > -2.25, and among these there is a trend for the [C/Fe] abundance to decrease with increasing luminosity on the red giant branch. This is a phenomenon that is also seen among both field and globular cluster giants of the Galactic halo, where it has been interpreted as a consequence of deep mixing of material between the base of the convective envelope and the outer limits of the hydrogen-burning shell. However, among the six Draco giants observed that turn out to have metallicities -2.65 < [Fe/H] < -2.25 there is no such trend seen in the carbon abundance. This may be due to small sample statistics or primordial inhomogeneities in carbon abundance among the most metal-poor Draco stars. We identify a potential carbon-rich extremely metal-poor star in our sample. This candidate will require follow-up observations for confirmation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number123
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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