The MACHO Project 9 Million Star Color-Magnitude Diagram of the Large Magellanic Cloud
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We present a 9 million star color-magnitude diagram (9M CMD) of the LMC bar.
The 9M CMD reveals a complex superposition of different age and metallicity
stellar populations, with important stellar evolutionary phases occurring over
3 orders of magnitude in number density. First, we count the non-variable
supergiants, the associated Cepheids, and measure the effective temperatures
defining the instability strip. Lifetime predictions of stellar evolution
theory are tested, with implications for the origin of low-luminosity Cepheids.
The highly-evolved AGB stars have a bimodal distribution in brightness, which
we interpret as discrete old populations (>1 Gyr). The faint AGB may be
metal-poor and very old. We identify the clusters NGC 411 and M3 as templates
for the admixture of old stellar populations. However, there are indications
that the old and metal-poor field population has a red HB morphology: the RR
Lyraes lie on the red edge of the instability strip, the AGB-bump is very red,
and the ratio of AGB-bump stars to RR Lyraes is quite large. If the HB second
parameter is age, the old and metal-poor field population likely formed after
the oldest clusters. Lifetime predictions of stellar evolution theory lead us
to associate a significant fraction of the red HB clump giants with the same
old and metal-poor population producing the RR Lyraes and the AGB-bump. In this
case, compared to the age-dependent luminosity predictions of stellar evolution
theory, the red HB clump is too bright relative to the RR Lyraes and AGB-bump.
Last, the surface density profile of RR Lyraes is fit by an exponential,
favoring a disk-like rather than spheroidal distribution. We conclude that the
age of the LMC disk is probably similar to the age of the Galactic disk.
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