Population effects on the metallicity distribution function derived from the red giant branch.
ORDONEZ A.J. and SARAJEDINI A.
Abstract (from CDS):
We have tested the reliability of the red giant branch (RGB) as a metallicity indicator accounting for observational errors as well as the complexity of star formation histories and chemical evolution histories observed in various stellar systems. We generate model color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) produced with a variety of evolutionary histories and compare the resultant metallicity estimates from the colors and magnitudes of RGB stars to the true input metallicities. We include realistic models for photometric errors and completeness in our synthetic CMDs. As expected, for simple simple stellar populations dominated by old stars, the RGB provides a very accurate estimate of the modular metallicity value for a population. An error in the age of a system targeted for this type of study may produce metallicity errors of a few tenths of a dex. The size of this metallicity error depends linearly on the age error, and we find this dependence to be stronger with more precise photometry. If the population has experienced any significant star formation within the last ∼6 Gyr, the metallicity estimates, [M/H], derived from the RGB may be in error by up to ∼0.5 dex. Perhaps the most important consideration for this technique is an accurate, independent estimate of the average age for the target stellar system, especially if it is probable that a significant fraction of the population formed less than ∼6 Gyr ago.
galaxies: dwarf - galaxies: stellar content - Hertzsprung-Russell and C-M diagrams - Local Group - stars: abundances