Extended Main-sequence Turnoffs in the Double Cluster h and χ Persei: The Complex Role of Stellar Rotation


Using Gaia Data Release 2 photometry, we report the detection of extended main-sequence turnoff (eMSTO) regions in the color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) of the ∼14 Myr old double clusters h and χ Persei (NGC 869 and NGC 884). We find that stars with masses below ∼1.3 M ☉ in both h and χ Persei populate narrow main sequences (MSs), while more massive stars define the eMSTO, closely mimicking observations of young Galactic and Magellanic Cloud clusters (with ages older than ∼30 Myr). Previous studies based on clusters older than ∼30 Myr found that rapidly rotating MS stars are redder than slow rotators of similar luminosity, suggesting that stellar rotation may be the main driver of the eMSTO. By combining photometry and projected rotational velocities from the literature of stars in h and χ Persei, we find no obvious relation between the rotational velocities and colors of non-emission-line eMSTO stars, in contrast with what is observed in older clusters. Similar to what is observed in Magellanic Cloud clusters, most of the extremely rapidly rotating stars, identified by their strong Hα emission lines, are located in the red part of the eMSTOs. This indicates that stellar rotation plays a role in the color and magnitude distribution of MSTO stars. By comparing the observations with simulated CMDs, we find that a simple population composed of coeval stars that span a wide range of rotation rates is unable to reproduce the color spread of the cluster’s MSs. We suggest that variable stars, binary interactions, and stellar rotation affect the eMSTO morphology of these very young

The Astrophysical Journal