Rotation, planets, and the 'second parameter' of the horizontal branch

Noam Soker*, Amos Harpaz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


We analyse the angular momentum evolution from the red giant branch (RGB) to the horizontal branch (HB) and along the HB. Using rotation velocities for stars in the globular cluster M13, we find that the required angular momentum for the fast rotators is up to 1-3 orders of magnitude (depending on some assumptions) larger than that of the Sun. Planets of masses up to 5 times Jupiter's mass and up to an initial orbital separation of ∼2au are sufficient to spin-up the RGB progenitors of most of these fast rotators. Other stars have been spun-up by brown dwarfs or low-mass main-sequence stars. Our results show that the fast rotating HB stars have been probably spun-up by planets, brown dwarfs or low-mass main-sequence stars while they evolved on the RGB. We argue that the angular momentum considerations presented in this paper further support the 'planet second parameter' model. In this model, the 'second parameter' process, which determines the distribution of stars on the HB, is interaction with low-mass companions, in most cases with gas-giant planets, and in a minority of cases with brown dwarfs or low-mass main-sequence stars. The masses and initial orbital separations of the planets (or brown dwarfs or low-mass main-sequence stars) form a rich spectrum of different physical parameters, which manifests itself in the rich varieties of HB morphologies observed in the different globular clusters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)861-866
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: close
  • Globular clusters: individual: M13
  • Planetary systems
  • Stars: horizontal branch
  • Stars: low-mass, brown dwarfs
  • Stars: rotation

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