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Completing the census of (bright) variable stars in galactic globular clusters .
We present a long-term project aimed at completing the census of(bright) variable stars in Galactic globular clusters. While our mainaim is to obtain a reliable assessment of the populations of RR Lyraeand type II Cepheid stars in the Galactic globular cluster system, dueattention is also being paid to other types of variables, including SXPhoenicis stars, long-period variables, and eclipsing binaries.

An Empirical Calibration of the Mixing-Length Parameter α
We present an empirical calibration of the mixing-length free parameterα based on a homogeneous infrared database of 28 Galactic globularclusters spanning a wide metallicity range (-2.15<[Fe/H]<-0.2).Empirical estimates of the red giant effective temperatures have beenobtained from infrared colors. Suitable relations linking thesetemperatures to the cluster metallicity have been obtained and comparedto theoretical predictions. An appropriate set of models for the Sun andPopulation II giants has been computed by using both the standard solarmetallicity (Z/X)solar=0.0275 and the most recently proposedvalue (Z/X)solar=0.0177. We find that when the standard solarmetallicity is adopted, a unique value of α=2.17 can be used toreproduce both the solar radius and the Population II red gianttemperature. Conversely, when the new solar metallicity is adopted, twodifferent values of α are required: α=1.86 to fit the solarradius and α~2.0 to fit the red giant temperatures. However, itmust be noted that regardless the adopted solar reference, theα-parameter does not show any significant dependence onmetallicity.Based on observations collected at the European Southern Observatory(ESO), La Silla, Chile. Also based on observations made with the ItalianTelescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) operated on the island of La Palma bythe Fundacion Galileo Galilei of the INAF (Istituto Nazionale diAstrofisica) at the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos ofthe Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias.

Surface Brightness Profiles of Galactic Globular Clusters from Hubble Space Telescope Images
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) allows us to study the central surfacebrightness profiles of globular clusters at unprecedented detail. Wehave mined the HST archives to obtain 38 WFPC2 images of Galacticglobular clusters with adequate exposure times and filters, which we useto measure their central structure. We outline a reliable method toobtain surface brightness profiles from integrated light that we test onan extensive set of simulated images. Most clusters have central surfacebrightness about 0.5 mag brighter than previous measurements made fromground-based data, with the largest differences around 2 mag. Includingthe uncertainties in the slope estimates, the surface brightness slopedistribution is consistent with half of the sample having flat cores andthe remaining half showing a gradual decline from 0 to -0.8[dlogΣ/dlogr)]. We deproject the surface brightness profiles in anonparametric way to obtain luminosity density profiles. Thedistribution of luminosity density logarithmic slopes shows similarfeatures, with half of the sample between -0.4 and -1.8. These resultsare in contrast to our theoretical bias that the central regions ofglobular clusters are either isothermal (i.e., flat central profiles) orvery steep (i.e., luminosity density slope approximately -1.6) forcore-collapse clusters. With only 50% of our sample having centralprofiles consistent with isothermal cores, King models appear torepresent most globular clusters in their cores poorly.

UBVI CCD Photometry of the Old Open Cluster Berkeley 17
Photometric UBVI CCD photometry is presented for NGC 188 and Berkeley17. Color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) are constructed and reach well pastthe main-sequence turnoff for both clusters. Cluster ages are determinedby means of isochrone fitting to the cluster CMDs. These fits areconstrained to agree with spectroscopic metallicity and reddeningestimates. Cluster ages are determined to be 7.0+/-0.5 Gyr for NGC 188and 10.0+/-1.0 Gyr for Berkeley 17, where the errors refer touncertainties in the relative age determinations. These ages arecompared to the ages of relatively metal-rich inner halo/thick-diskglobular clusters and other old open clusters. Berkeley 17 and NGC 6791are the oldest open clusters, with ages of 10 Gyr. They are 2 Gyryounger than the thick-disk globular clusters. These results confirm thestatus of Berkeley 17 as one of the oldest known open clusters in theMilky Way, and its age provides a lower limit to the age of the Galacticdisk.

Nearby Spiral Globular Cluster Systems. I. Luminosity Functions
We compare the near-infrared (JHK) globular cluster luminosity functions(GCLFs) of the Milky Way, M31, and the Sculptor Group spiral galaxies.We obtained near-infrared photometry with the Persson's AuxiliaryNasmyth Infrared Camera on the Baade Telescope for 38 objects (mostlyglobular cluster candidates) in the Sculptor Group. We also havenear-infrared photometry from the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)-6Xdatabase for 360 M31 globular cluster candidates and aperture photometryfor 96 Milky Way globular cluster candidates from the 2MASS All-Sky andSecond Incremental Release databases. The M31 6X GCLFs peak at absolutereddening-corrected magnitudes of MJ0=-9.18,MH0=-9.73, and MK0=-9.98.The mean brightness of the Milky Way objects is consistent with that ofM31 after accounting for incompleteness. The average Sculptor absolutemagnitudes (correcting for relative distance from the literature andforeground reddening) are MJ0=-9.18,MH0=-9.70, and MK0=-9.80.NGC 300 alone has absolute foreground-dereddened magnitudesMJ0=-8.87, MH0=-9.39, andMK0=-9.46 using the newest Gieren et al. distance.This implies either that the NGC 300 GCLF may be intrinsically fainterthan that of the larger galaxy M31 or that NGC 300 may be slightlyfarther away than previously thought. Straightforward application of ourM31 GCLF results as a calibrator gives NGC 300 distance moduli of26.68+/-0.14 using J, 26.71+/-0.14 using H, and 26.89+/-0.14 using K.Data for this project were obtained at the Baade 6.5 m telescope, LasCampanas Observatory, Chile.

Hot Populations in M87 Globular Clusters
To explore the production of UV-bright stars in old, metal-richpopulations like those in elliptical galaxies, we have obtained HubbleSpace Telescope (HST) Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph far- andnear-UV photometry of globular clusters (GCs) in four fields in thegiant elliptical (gE) galaxy M87. To a limit of mFUV~25 wedetect a total of 66 GCs in common with the deep HST optical-band studyof Kundu et al. Despite strong overlap in V- and I-band properties, theM87 GCs have UV-optical properties that are distinct from clusters inthe Milky Way and in M31. M87 clusters, especially metal-poor ones,produce larger hot horizontal-branch populations than do Milky Wayanalogs. In color plots including the near-UV band, the M87 clustersappear to represent an extension of the Milky Way sequence. Cluster massis probably not a factor in these distinctions. The most metal-rich M87GCs in our sample are near solar metallicity and overlap the local Egalaxy sample in estimated Mg2 line indices. Nonetheless, theclusters produce much more UV light at a given Mg2, being upto 1 mag bluer than any gE galaxy in (FUV-V) color. The M87 GCs do notappear to represent a transition between Milky Way-type clusters and Egalaxies. The differences are in the correct sense if the clusters aresignificantly older than the E galaxies.Comparisons with Galactic open clusters indicate that the hot stars lieon the extreme horizontal branch, rather than being blue stragglers, andthat the extreme horizontal branch becomes well populated for ages>~5 Gyr. Existing model grids for clusters do not match theobservations well, due to poorly understood giant branch mass loss orperhaps high helium abundances. We find that 41 of our UV detectionshave no optical-band counterparts. Most appear to be UV-brightbackground galaxies seen through M87. Eleven near-UV variable sourcesdetected at only one epoch in the central field are probably classicalnovae. Two recurrent variable sources have no obvious explanation butcould be related to activity in the relativistic jet.

Multivariate analysis of globular cluster horizontal branch morphology: searching for the second parameter
Aims.The interpretation of globular cluster horizontal branch (HB)morphology is a classical problem that can significantly blur ourunderstanding of stellar populations. Methods: .We present a newmultivariate analysis connecting the effective temperature extent of theHB with other cluster parameters. The work is based on Hubble SpaceTelescope photometry of 54 Galactic globular clusters. Results: .The present study reveals the important role of the total mass of theglobular cluster on its HB morphology. More massive clusters tend tohave HBs more extended to higher temperatures. For a set of three inputvariables including the temperature extension of the HB, [Fe/H] and M_V,the first two eigenvectors account for 90% of the total samplevariance. Conclusions: . Possible effects of clusterself-pollution on HB morphology, stronger in more massive clusters,could explain the results derived here.

Surface-brightness fluctuations in stellar populations. IAC-star models for the optical and near-IR wavelengths
Aims.A new theoretical calibration of surface-brightness fluctuations(SBF) for single age, single metallicity stellar populations ispresented for the optical and near-IR broad-band filters, as well as forthe HST WFPC2 and ACS filters. Methods: .The IAC-star code isused. Two Padua and the Teramo stellar evolution libraries have beenconsidered. A set of single-burst stellar populations (SSP) with a widerange of ages (3 Gy-15 Gy) and metallicities (Z = 0.0001-0.03) have beencomputed using each one of the three considered stellar evolutionlibraries. For each SSP, color indexes and SBF magnitudes are given forthe filters U, B, V, R, I, J, H, K, {F218W}, {F336W}, {F439W}, {F450W},{F555W} and {F814W}, and for the first time, an uncertainty has beenestimated for the SBF theoretical calibration. Results: .Althoughsome differences might be addressed, the Padua and Teramo stellarevolution libraries provide comparable SBF results. A detailedcomparison of the present SBF calibrations with both previouscalibrations and observational data is also presented. Comparing thedifferent models with observational data, Padua based models reproducefairly well the optical data for globular clusters, while Teramo basedmodels fits both optical galaxies and globular clusters data, as well.In the near-IR wavelengths, the Teramo based models provide the only SBFtheoretical calibration to date able to properly reproduce theobservational data for superclusters, with intermediate-to-lowmetallicity. As a conclusion, Teramo based models work better than anyother calibration reproducing observational data for the near-IRwavelengths. Furthermore, the age-metallicity degeneracy is broken forlow metallicity (Z≤0.0037) stellar populations. Finally, a clearrelation between the B SBF absolute magnitude of a stellar populationand its metallicity is found for intermediate to old populations, so theB-band fluctuation magnitude is proposed as a metallicity tracer. Thepresent theoretical calibration shows that the analysis of SBF providesa very powerful tool in the study and characterization of unresolvedstellar populations.

Dwarf elliptical galaxies in Centaurus A group: stellar populations in AM 1339-445 and AM 1343-452
We study the red giant populations of two dE galaxies, AM 1339-445 andAM 1343-452, with the aim of investigating the number and luminosity ofany upper asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars present. The galaxies aremembers of the Centaurus A group (D ≈ 3.8 Mpc) and are classified asoutlying (R ≈ 350 kpc) satellites of Cen A. The analysis is based onnear-IR photometry for individual red giant stars, derived from imagesobtained with ISAAC on the VLT. The photometry, along with optical dataderived from WFPC2 images retrieved from the HST science archive, enableus to investigate the stellar populations of the dEs in the vicinity ofthe red giant branch (RGB) tip. In both systems we find stars above theRGB tip, which we interpret as intermediate-age upper-AGB stars. Thepresence of such stars is indicative of extended star formation in thesedEs similar to that seen in many, but not all, dEs in the Local Group.For AM 1339-445, the brightest of the upper-AGB stars haveMbol ≈-4.5 while those in AM 1343-452 have Mbol≈ -4.8 mag. These luminosities suggest ages of approximately 6.5± 1 and 4 ± 1 Gyr as estimates for the epoch of the lastepisode of significant star formation in these systems. In both casesthe number of upper-AGB stars suggests that ~15% of the total stellarpopulation is in the form of intermediate-age stars, considerably lessthan is the case for outlying dE satellites of the Milky Way such asFornax and Leo I.

The bimodal metallicity distribution function of the globular clusters in the Galaxy: halo disc complementarity
Aims.Our aim in this paper is to present an explanatory scenario for theformation of the observed relatively metal rich globular clustersassociated with the thick disc of the Galaxy, distinct from the mode offormation of the lower metallicity halo clusters.Methods.Theobservations to be accounted for here are the two peaks in themetallicity distribution of the thick disc globular clusters, at [ Fe/H]˜ -0.7 and at [ Fe/H] ˜ -0.4. The first step is to verify thestatistical significance of these peaks, and the insignificance of amuch smaller peak at [ Fe/H] ˜ -0.2. The basic model assumption isthat these globular clusters were formed as the most massive long termsurvivors of a much larger set of open clusters whose epochs offormation coincided with the main epochs of star formation in the thindisc. These latter are identified using established data sets giving thelocal stellar frequency distribution in time based on stellar activityindices.Results.Our simple stellar accretion model accounts reasonablyfor the presence of the observed peaks in the cluster metallicitydistribution, and the long time constant for the accretion as a massivecluster moves through the stellar environment explains qualitatively whythe most recent peak in the local star formation rate has not yet givenrise to a corresponding peak in the globular cluster distribution. Italso explains in broad terms how a uniform process of cluster formationoriginating both open clusters and disc globular clusters can yield theobserved high numbers of open clusters and the few surviving globulars.

Deepsky delights.
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Near-infrared photometry of four metal-rich bulge globular clusters: NGC 6304, 6569, 6637 and 6638*
We present high-quality near-infrared (near-IR) photometry of four bulgemetal-rich globular clusters, namely NGC 6304, 6569, 6637 and 6638. Byusing the observed colour-magnitude diagrams we derived photometricestimates of the cluster reddening and distance. We performed a detailedanalysis of the red giant branch (RGB), presenting a completedescription of its morphologic parameters and evolutionary features(bump and tip). Photometric estimates of the cluster metallicity wereobtained using the updated data set (published by our group) linkingmetal abundance to a variety of near-IR indices measured along the RGB.The detection of the RGB bump and tip is also presented and brieflydiscussed.

Resolved Massive Star Clusters in the Milky Way and Its Satellites: Brightness Profiles and a Catalog of Fundamental Parameters
We present a database of structural and dynamical properties for 153spatially resolved star clusters in the Milky Way, the Large and SmallMagellanic Clouds, and the Fornax dwarf spheroidal. This databasecomplements and extends others in the literature, such as those ofHarris and Mackey & Gilmore. Our cluster sample comprises 50 ``youngmassive clusters'' in the LMC and SMC, and 103 old globular clustersbetween the four galaxies. The parameters we list include central andhalf-light-averaged surface brightnesses and mass densities; core andeffective radii; central potentials, concentration parameters, and tidalradii; predicted central velocity dispersions and escape velocities;total luminosities, masses, and binding energies; central phase-spacedensities; half-mass relaxation times; and ``κ-space'' parameters.We use publicly available population-synthesis models to computestellar-population properties (intrinsic B-V colors, reddenings, andV-band mass-to-light ratios) for the same 153 clusters plus another 63globulars in the Milky Way. We also take velocity-dispersionmeasurements from the literature for a subset of 57 (mostly old)clusters to derive dynamical mass-to-light ratios for them, showing thatthese compare very well to the population-synthesis predictions. Thecombined data set is intended to serve as the basis for futureinvestigations of structural correlations and the fundamental plane ofmassive star clusters, including especially comparisons between thesystemic properties of young and old clusters.The structural and dynamical parameters are derived from fitting threedifferent models-the modified isothermal sphere of King; an alternatemodified isothermal sphere based on the ad hoc stellar distributionfunction of Wilson; and asymptotic power-law models withconstant-density cores-to the surface-brightness profile of eachcluster. Surface-brightness data for the LMC, SMC, and Fornax clustersare based in large part on the work of Mackey & Gilmore, but includesignificant supplementary data culled from the literature and importantcorrections to Mackey & Gilmore's V-band magnitude scale. Theprofiles of Galactic globular clusters are taken from Trager et al. Weaddress the question of which model fits each cluster best, finding inthe majority of cases that the Wilson models-which are spatially moreextended than King models but still include a finite, ``tidal'' cutoffin density-fit clusters of any age, in any galaxy, as well as or betterthan King models. Untruncated, asymptotic power laws often fit about aswell as Wilson models but can be significantly worse. We argue that theextended halos known to characterize many Magellanic Cloud clusters maybe examples of the generic envelope structure of self-gravitating starclusters, not just transient features associated strictly with youngage.

A Library of Integrated Spectra of Galactic Globular Clusters
We present a new library of integrated spectra of 40 Galactic globularclusters, obtained with the Blanco 4 m telescope and the R-Cspectrograph at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The spectracover the range ~3350-6430 Å with ~3.1 Å (FWHM) resolution.The spectroscopic observations and data reduction were designed tointegrate the full projected area within the cluster core radii in orderto properly sample the light from stars in all relevant evolutionarystages. The S/N values of the flux-calibrated spectra range from 50 to240 Å-1 at 4000 Å and from 125 to 500Å-1 at 5000 Å. The selected targets span a widerange of cluster parameters, including metallicity, horizontal-branchmorphology, Galactic coordinates, Galactocentric distance, andconcentration. The total sample is thus fairly representative of theentire Galactic globular cluster population and should be valuable forcomparison with similar integrated spectra of unresolved stellarpopulations in remote systems. For most of the library clusters, ourspectra can be coupled with deep color-magnitude diagrams and reliablemetal abundances from the literature to enable the calibration ofstellar population synthesis models. In this paper we present a detailedaccount of the observations and data reduction. The spectral library ispublicly available in electronic format from the National OpticalAstronomical Observatory Web site.

Galactic Globular Cluster Relative Ages
We present accurate relative ages for a sample of 55 Galactic globularclusters. The ages have been obtained by measuring the differencebetween the horizontal branch and the turnoff in two internallyphotometrically homogeneous databases. The mutual consistency of the twodata sets has been assessed by comparing the ages of 16 globularclusters in common between the two databases. We have also investigatedthe consistency of our relative age determination within the recentstellar model framework. All clusters with [Fe/H]<-1.7 are found tobe old and coeval, with the possible exception of two objects, which aremarginally younger. The age dispersion for the metal-poor clusters is0.6 Gyr (rms), consistent with a null age dispersion.Intermediate-metallicity clusters (-1.7<[Fe/H]<-0.8) are onaverage 1.5 Gyr younger than the metal-poor ones, with an age dispersionof 1.0 Gyr (rms) and a total age range of ~3 Gyr. About 15% of theintermediate-metallicity clusters are coeval with the oldest clusters.All the clusters with [Fe/H]>-0.8 are ~1 Gyr younger than the mostmetal-poor ones, with a relatively small age dispersion, although themetal-rich sample is still too small to allow firmer conclusions. Thereis no correlation of the cluster age with the galactocentric distance.We briefly discuss the implication of these observational results forthe formation history of the Galaxy.Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtainedat the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by theAssociation of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASAcontract NAS 5-26555, and on observations made at the European SouthernObservatory, La Silla, Chile, and with the Isaac Newton GroupTelescopes.

Infrared Photometry of NGC 6791
We present deep JHK photometry of the old and metal-rich open clusterNGC 6791. The photometry reaches below the main-sequence turnoff toK~16.5 mag. We combine our photometry with that from Stetson et al. toprovide color-magnitude diagrams showing K versus J-K, K versus V-K, andV versus V-K. We study the slope of the red giant branch in the infraredbut find that it is not a useful metallicity indicator for the cluster,nor any metal-rich cluster that lacks a well-populated red giant branch,because it is not linear, as has often been assumed, in K versus J-K.The mean color of the red horizontal-branch/red clump stars provide anestimate of the cluster reddening, E(B-V)=0.14+/-0.04 mag for[Fe/H]=+0.4+/-0.1. The mean magnitudes of these stars also provide agood distance estimate, (m-M)0=13.07+/-0.04. Finally, we findthat the isochrones of Yi et al. provide optimal fits in V versus B-Vand V-K and K versus J-K and V-K for such values if [Fe/H] lies between+0.3 and +0.5 (with a slight preference for +0.5) and ages between 9 Gyr([Fe/H]=+0.3) and 7.5 Gyr ([Fe/H]=+0.5).Based on observations made with the Mayall 4 m Telescope of the NationalOptical Astronomy Observatory.

VLT spectroscopy of globular cluster systems. II. Spectroscopic ages, metallicities, and [ α/Fe] ratios of globular clusters in early-type galaxies
An analysis of ages, metallicities, and [ α/Fe] ratios of globularcluster systems in early-type galaxies is presented, based on Lick indexmeasurements summarized in Puzia et al. (2004, A&A, 415, 123, PaperI of this series). In the light of calibration and measurementuncertainties, age-metallicity degeneracy, and the relative dynamicrange of Lick indices, as well as systematics introduced by abundanceratio variations (in particular variations of [ α/Fe] ratios), wefind that the most reliable age indicator for our dataset is acombination of the Lick Balmer-line indices Hγ_A, Hβ, andHδ_A. [MgFe]´ is used as a spectroscopic metallicityindicator which is least affected by [ α/Fe] variations. Weintroduce an interpolation routine to simultaneously derive ages,metallicities, and [ α/Fe] ratios from diagnostic gridsconstructed from Lick indices. From a comparison of high-quality datawith SSP model predictions, we find that 2/3 of the globular clustersin early-type galaxies are older than 10 Gyr, up to 1/3 have ages in therange 5{-}10 Gyr, and only a few cluster are younger than 5 Gyr. Oursample of globular clusters covers metallicities from [Z/H] ≈ -1.3 upto 0.5 dex. We find that metal-rich globular clusters show on average asmaller mean age and a larger age scatter than their metal-poorcounterparts. [ α/Fe] diagnostic plots show that globular clustersystems in early-type galaxies have super-solar α/Fe abundanceratios with a mean [ α/Fe] = 0.47 ± 0.06 dex and adispersion of 0.3 dex. We find evidence for a correlation between [α/Fe] and metallicity, in the sense that more metal-rich clustersexhibit lower α-element enhancements. A discussion of systematicsrelated to the Lick index system shows that the method suffers to someextent from uncertainties due to unknown horizontal branch morphologiesat high metallicities. However, these systematics still allow us to makegood qualitative statements. A detailed investigation of indices as afunction of data quality reveals that the scatter in Balmer index valuesdecreases for higher-quality data. In particular, extremely low Balmerindex values that are lower than any SSP model prediction tend todisappear. Furthermore, we find that observed photometric colors are ingood agreement with computed SSP colors using ages and metallicities asderived from the spectroscopic line indices.

A robust method for the analysis of integrated spectra from globular clusters using Lick indices
We define a method for the analysis of the integrated spectra ofextragalactic globular clusters that provides more reliable measures ofthe age, metallicity and α-element abundance ratio than have sofar been achieved. The method involves the simultaneous fitting of up to25 Lick indices in a χ2 fitting technique that maximizesthe use of the available data. Here we compare three sets of singlestellar population (SSP) models of Lick indices to the highsignal-to-noise, integrated spectra of 20 Galactic globular clusters.The ages, [Fe/H] and α-element abundance ratios derived from theSSP models are compared with the results of resolved stellar populationstudies from the literature. We find good consistency with the publishedvalues, with an agreement of better than 0.1 dex in all three derivedparameters. The technique allows the identification of abundance ratioanomalies, such as the known nitrogen overabundance in Galactic globularclusters, and the presence of anomalous horizontal branch morphologies.It also minimizes the impact on the derived parameters of imperfectcalibration to the Lick system, and reduction errors in general. Themethod defined in this paper is therefore robust with respect to many ofthe difficulties that plague the application of SSP models in general.Consequently, it is well suited to the study of extragalactic globularcluster systems.

Red giant branch in near-infrared colour-magnitude diagrams - II. The luminosity of the bump and the tip
We present new empirical calibrations of the red giant branch (RGB) bumpand tip based on a homogeneous near-infrared data base of 24 Galacticglobular clusters. The luminosities of the RGB bump and tip in the J, Hand K bands and their dependence on the cluster metallicity have beenstudied, yielding empirical relationships. By using recenttransformations between the observational and theoretical planes, wealso derived similar calibrations in terms of bolometric luminosity.Direct comparisons between updated theoretical models and observationsshow an excellent agreement. The empirical calibration of the RGB tipluminosity in the near-infrared passbands presented here is afundamental tool to derive distances to galaxies far beyond the LocalGroup, in view of using the new ground-based adaptive optics facilitiesand, in the near future, the James Webb Space Telescope.

Red giant branch in near-infrared colour-magnitude diagrams - I. Calibration of photometric indices
We present new high-quality near-infrared photometry of 10 Galacticglobular clusters spanning a wide metallicity range (-2.12<=[Fe/H]<=- 0.49): five clusters belong to the halo (NGC 288, 362,6752, M15 and M30) and five (NGC 6342, 6380, 6440, 6441 and 6624) to thebulge. By combining J, H and K observations with optical data, weconstructed colour-magnitude diagrams in various planes: (K, J-K), (K,V-K), (H, J-H) and (H, V-H). A set of photometric indices (colours,magnitudes and slopes) describing the location and the morphology of thered giant branch (RGB) have been measured. We have combined this newdata set with those collected by our group over the last 5 years, andhere we present an updated calibration of the various RGB indices in theTwo-Micron All-Sky Survey photometric system, in terms of the clustermetallicity.

Integrated spectral energy distributions and absorption-feature indices of single stellar populations
Using evolutionary population synthesis, we present integrated spectralenergy distributions and absorption-line indices defined by the LickObservatory image dissector scanner (referred to as Lick/IDS) system,for an extensive set of instantaneous burst single stellar populations(SSPs). The ages of the SSPs are in the range 1 Gyr <=τ<= 19Gyr and the metallicities are in the range -2.3 <=[Fe/H]<=+0.2.Our models use the rapid single stellar evolution algorithm of Hurley,Pols and Tout for the stellar evolutionary tracks, the empirical andsemi-empirical calibrated BaSeL-2.0 model of Lejeune, Cuisinier andBuser for the library of stellar spectra and the empirical fittingfunctions of Worthey, Faber, Gonzalez and Burstein for the Lick/IDSspectral absorption-feature indices.Applying our synthetic Lick/IDS absorption-line indices to the meritfunction, we obtain the age and the metallicity of the central region ofM32, which can be well explained by an instantaneous SSP with an age of~6.5 Gyr and a metallicity similar to solar. Applying the derived ageand the metallicity from the merit function to a number of index-indexdiagrams, we find that the plots of Hβ-Fe5015 andHβ-Fe5782 are the best index-index diagrams from whichwe can directly obtain reasonable age and metallicity.

The Early Evolution of Globular Clusters: The Case of NGC 2808
Enhancement and spread of helium among globular cluster stars have beenrecently suggested as a way to explain the horizontal-branch blue tailsin those clusters that show a primordial spread in the abundances of C,N, O, and other elements involved in advanced CNO burning. Heliumenhancement is unavoidable if the matter responsible for the abundancespreads is identified with the matter lost by massive asymptotic giantbranch stars, which evolve during the early phases of globular clusterlife, as we noted in 2002. In this paper we examine the implications ofthe hypothesis that, in many globular clusters, stars were born in twoseparate events: an initial burst (first generation), which gives originto probably all high- and intermediate-mass stars and to a fraction ofthe cluster stars observed today, and a second, prolonged star formationphase (second generation), in which stars form directly from the ejectaof the intermediate-mass stars of the first generation. In particular,we consider in detail the morphology of the horizontal branch in NGC2808 and argue that it unveils the early cluster evolution, from thebirth of the first star generation to the end of the second phase ofstar formation. This framework provides a feasible interpretation forthe still-unexplained dichotomy of the NGC 2808 horizontal branch,attributing the lack of stars in the RR Lyrae region to the gap in thehelium content between the red clump, whose stars are considered tobelong to the first stellar generation and have primordial helium, andthe blue side of the horizontal branch, whose minimum helium contentreflects the helium abundance in the smallest progenitor mass (~4Msolar) contributing to the second stellar generation. Thisscenario provides constraints on the required initial mass function, insuch a way that a great many remnant neutron stars and stellar massblack holes might have been produced.

Infrared Echelle Spectroscopy of Palomar 6 and M71
We present high-resolution infrared echelle spectroscopy for theglobular clusters Palomar 6 and M71. Our mean heliocentric radialvelocity of Pal 6 is +180.6+/-3.2 km s-1 and is 20 kms-1 lower than that found by Minniti in 1995. Contrary to theprevious metallicity estimates using low-resolution spectroscopy, ourresults show that Pal 6 has an intermediate metallicity, with[Fe/H]=-1.0+/-0.1, and is slightly more metal poor than M71. Reasonablechanges in the surface temperature or the microturbulent velocity of themodel atmospheres do not affect [Fe/H] at more than +/-0.2 dex. In spiteof its high metallicity, on the basis of the spectrum of a singlecluster member the [Si/Fe] and [Ti/Fe] ratios of Pal 6 appear to beenhanced by 0.4 and 0.5 dex, respectively, suggesting that the Galacticinner halo may have experienced a very rapid chemical enrichmenthistory.Based on observations made with the Infrared Telescope Facility, whichis operated by the University of Hawaii under contract to the NationalAeronautics and Space Administration.

RR Lyrae Variables in Galactic Globular Clusters
RR Lyrae variables are the cornerstone of the Population II distancescale, and yet our knowledge of the RR Lyrae variable star content inGalactic globular clusters is now known to be surprisingly incomplete.In the present paper, we present our new results in this area.Highlights of our work includes: i) The discovery of a vast number ofvariable stars in M62 (NGC 6266), making it one of the three most RRLyrae-rich globular clusters known, and also placing it as Oosterhofftype I in spite of a blue horizontal branch morphology; ii) Thedetermination of light curves and Oosterhoff types for globular clustersassociated with the Sagittarius dSph galaxy, including NGC 5634, Arp 2,and Terzan 8; iii) A reassessment of the variable star content in themoderately metal-rich globular clusters M69 and NGC 6304; iv) The firsttheoretical calibration of the RR Lyrae period-luminosity-metallicityrelation in I, J, and H, as well as an updated calibration of the K-bandrelation---along with comparisons against the empirical data,particularly in I.This project was supported in part by Proyecto Fondecyt Regular 1030954.

Ages and metallicities of star clusters: New calibrations and diagnostic diagrams from visible integrated spectra
We present homogeneous scales of ages and metallicities for starclusters from very young objects, through intermediate-age ones up tothe oldest known clusters. All the selected clusters have integratedspectra in the visible range, as well as reliable determinations oftheir ages and metallicities. From these spectra equivalent widths (EWs)of K Ca II, G band (CH) and Mg I metallic, and Hδ, Hγ andHβ Balmer lines have been measured homogeneously. The analysis ofthese EWs shows that the EW sums of the metallic and Balmer H lines,separately, are good indicators of cluster age for objects younger than10 Gyr, and that the former is also sensitive to cluster metallicity forages greater than 10 Gyr. We propose an iterative procedure forestimating cluster ages by employing two new diagnostic diagrams and agecalibrations based on the above EW sums. For clusters older than 10 Gyr,we also provide a calibration to derive their overall metal contents.

The initial helium abundance of the Galactic globular cluster system
In this paper we estimate the initial He content in about 30% of theGalactic globular clusters (GGCs) from new star counts we have performedon the recently published HST snapshot database of Colour MagnitudeDiagrams (Piotto et al. \cite{Piotto02}). More specifically, we use theso-called R-parameter and estimate the He content from a theoreticalcalibration based on a recently updated set of stellar evolution models.We performed an accurate statistical analysis in order to assess whetherGGCs show a statistically significant spread in their initial Heabundances, and whether there is a correlation with the clustermetallicity. As in previous works on the subject, we do not find anysignificant dependence of the He abundance on the cluster metallicity;this provides an important constraint for models of Galaxy formation andevolution. Apart from GGCs with the bluest Horizontal Branch morphology,the observed spread in the individual helium abundances is statisticallycompatible with the individual errors. This means that either there isno intrinsic abundance spread among the GGCs, or that this is masked bythe errors. In the latter case we have estimated a firm 1σ upperlimit of 0.019 to the possible intrinsic spread. In case of the GGCswith the bluest Horizontal Branch morphology we detect a significantspread towards higher abundances inconsistent with the individualerrors; this can be fully explained by additional effects not accountedfor in our theoretical calibrations, which do not affect the abundancesestimated for the clusters with redder Horizontal Branch morphology. Inthe hypothesis that the intrinsic dispersion on the individual Heabundances is zero, taking into account the errors on the individualR-parameter estimates, as well as the uncertainties on the clustermetallicity scale and theoretical calibration, we have determined aninitial He abundance mass fraction YGGC=0.250±0.006.This value is in perfect agreement with current estimates based onCosmic Microwave Background radiation analyses and cosmologicalnucleosynthesis computations.Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtainedat the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA,Inc., under NASA contract NAS5-26555, and on observations retrieved withthe ESO ST-ECF Archive.

Long periodic variable stars
The information on Mira-type stars and stars adjacent to them at theHertzsprung -- Russel diagram is presented. A detailed description oftheir observational characteristics is given. We give a survey ofimportant observational works concerning: multicolor photometry withspecial attention to the IR emission, maser emission, shock waves, massloss, binarity, the problem of the pulsational mode, direct measurementsof angular and linear dimensions, statistic investigations, study ofkinematic characteristics etc. The most interesting problems regardinglong periodic variable stars are specified. Some attention is given tothe classification and evolutionary stage of these objects.

A Globular Cluster Metallicity Scale Based on the Abundance of Fe II
Assuming that in the atmospheres of low-mass, metal-poor red giantstars, one-dimensional models based on local thermodynamic equilibriumaccurately predict the abundance of iron from Fe II, we derive aglobular cluster metallicity scale based on the equivalent widths of FeII lines measured from high-resolution spectra of giants in 16 keyclusters lying in the abundance range-2.4<[Fe/H]II<-0.7. We base the scale largely on theanalysis of spectra of 149 giant stars in 11 clusters by the Lick-Texasgroup supplemented by high-resolution studies of giants in five otherclusters. We also derive ab initio the true distance moduli for certainkey clusters (M5, M3, M13, M92, and M15) as a means of setting stellarsurface gravities. Allowances are made for changes in the abundancescale if one employs (1) Kurucz models with and without convectiveovershooting to represent giant star atmospheres in place of MARCSmodels and (2) the Houdashelt et al. color-temperature scale in place ofthe Alonso et al. scale.We find that [Fe/H]II is correlated linearly withW', the reduced strength of the near-infrared Ca II tripletdefined by Rutledge et al., although the actual correlation coefficientsdepend on the atmospheric model employed. The correlations, limited tothe range -2.4<[Fe/H]II<-0.7, are as follows:1.[Fe/H]II=0.531W'-3.279(MARCS),2.[Fe/H]II=0.537W'-3.225 (Kurucz withconvective overshooting),3.[Fe/H]II=0.562W'-3.329 (Kurucz withoutconvective overshooting).We also discuss how to estimate [X/Fe] ratios. We suggest that C, N, andO, as well as elements appearing in the spectrum in the singly ionizedstate, e.g., Ti, Sc, Ba, La, and Eu, should be normalized to theabundance of Fe II. Other elements, which appear mostly in the neutralstate, but for which the dominant species is nevertheless the ionizedstate, are probably best normalized to Fe I, but uncertainties remain.

Stellar population models of Lick indices with variable element abundance ratios
We provide the whole set of Lick indices from CN1 toTiO2 in the wavelength range 4000 <~<~λ<~6500 Å of simple stellar population models with, for the firsttime, variable element abundance ratios, [α/Fe ]= 0.0, 0.3, 0.5,[α/Ca ]=-0.1, 0.0, 0.2, 0.5 and [α/N]=-0.5, 0.0. The modelscover ages between 1 and 15 Gyr, metallicities between 1/200 and 3.5solar. The impact from the element abundance changes on theabsorption-line indices is taken from Tripicco & Bell, using anextension of the method introduced by Trager et al. Our models are freefrom the intrinsic α/Fe bias that was imposed by the Milky Waytemplate stars up to now, hence they reflect well-defined α/Feratios at all metallicities. The models are calibrated with Milky Wayglobular clusters for which metallicities and α/Fe ratios areknown from independent spectroscopy of individual stars. Themetallicities that we derive from the Lick indices Mgb and Fe5270 are inexcellent agreement with the metallicity scale by Zinn & West, andwe show that the latter provides total metallicity rather than ironabundance. We can reproduce the relatively strong CN-absorption featuresCN1 and CN2 of galactic globular clusters withmodels in which nitrogen is enhanced by a factor of 3. An enhancement ofcarbon, instead, would lead to serious inconsistencies with the indicesMg1 and C24668. The calcium sensitive index Ca4227of globular clusters is well matched by our models with [Ca/Fe]= 0.3,including the metal-rich bulge clusters NGC 6528 and 6553. From ourα/Fe-enhanced models we infer that the index [MgFe] defined byGonzález is quite independent of α/Fe but still slightlydecreases with increasing α/Fe. We find that the index , instead,is completely independent of α/Fe and serves best as a tracer oftotal metallicity. Searching for blue indices that give similarinformation as Mg b and , we find that CN1 andFe4383 may be best suited to estimating α/Fe ratios of objects atredshifts z~ 1.

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Observation and Astrometry data

Right ascension:18h31m24.00s
Apparent magnitude:7.7

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MessierM 69
NGC 2000.0NGC 6637

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