We used high-quality images acquired with the Wide Field Camera 3 on board the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the blue straggler star (BSS) population of the galactic globular cluster NGC 362. We have found two distinct sequences of BSSs: this is the second case, after M30, where such a feature has been observed. Indeed, the BSS location, their extension in magnitude and color, and their radial distribution within the cluster nicely resemble those observed in M30, thus suggesting that the same interpretative scenario can be applied: the red BSS sub-population is generated by mass-transfer binaries, the blue one by collisions. The discovery of four new W UMa stars, three of which lie along the red BSS sequence, further supports this scenario. We also found that the inner portion of the density profile deviates from a King model and is well reproduced by either a mild power law (α ∼ -0.2) or a double King profile. This feature supports the hypothesis that the cluster is currently undergoing the core-collapse phase. Moreover, the BSS radial distribution shows a central peak and monotonically decreases outward without any evidence of an external rising branch. This evidence is a further indication of the advanced dynamical age of NGC 362; in fact, together with M30, NGC 362 belongs to the family of dynamically old clusters (Family III) in the "dynamical clock" classification proposed by Ferraro et al. The observational evidence presented here strengthens the possible connection between the existence of a double BSS sequence and a quite advanced dynamical status of the parent cluster.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science