Stellar Populations and Mass Loss in M15: A Spitzer Space Telescope Detection of Dust in the Intracluster Medium

Boyer, Martha L.; Woodward, Charles E.; van Loon, Jacco Th.; Gordon, Karl D.; Evans, A.; Gehrz, Robert D.; Helton, L. Andrew; & Polomski, Elisha F.
2006, The Astronomical Journal, 132, 1415

We present Spitzer Space Telescope IRAC and MIPS observations of the Galactic globular cluster M15 (NGC 7078), one of the most metal-poor clusters, with a [Fe/H]=-2.4. Our Spitzer images reveal a population of dusty red giants near the cluster center, a previously detected planetary nebula designated K648, and a possible detection of the intracluster medium arising from mass-loss episodes from the evolved stellar population. Our analysis suggests that (9+/-2)×10-4 Msolar of dust is present in the core of M15, and that this material has accumulated over a period of ~106 yr, a timescale 10 times shorter than the last Galactic plane crossing event. We also present Spitzer IRS follow-up observations of K648, including the detection of the [Ne II] 12.81 μm line, and discuss abundances derived from infrared fine-structure lines.


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