On the Origin of Sub-subgiant Stars. I. Demographics Academic Article uri icon

  • Overview
  • Research
  • Identity
  • Additional Document Info
  • View All


  • Sub-subgiants are stars observed to be redder than normal main-sequence stars and fainter than normal subgiant (and giant) stars in an optical color-magnitude diagram. The red straggler stars, which lie redward of the red giant branch, may be related and are often grouped together with the sub-subgiants in the literature. These stars defy our standard theory of single-star evolution, and are important tests for binary evolution and stellar collision models. In total, we identify 65 sub-subgiants and red stragglers in 16 open and globular star clusters from the literature; 50 of these, including 43 sub-subgiants, pass our strict membership selection criteria (though the remaining sources may also be cluster members). In addition to their unique location on the color-magnitude diagram, we find that at least 58% (25/43) of sub-subgiants in this sample are X-ray sources with typical 0.5-2.5 keV luminosities of order 10^30 - 10^31 erg/s. Their X-ray luminosities and optical-to-X-ray flux ratios are similar to those of RS CVn active binaries. At least 65% (28/43) of the sub-subgiants in our sample are variables, 21 of which are known to be radial-velocity binaries. Typical variability periods are <15 days. At least 33% (14/43) of the sub-subgiants are H-alpha emitters. These observational demographics provide strong evidence that binarity is important for sub-subgiant formation. Finally, we find that the number of sub-subgiants per unit mass increases toward lower-mass clusters, such that the open clusters in our sample have the highest specific frequencies of sub-subgiants.


  • Geller, Aaron M
  • Leiner, Emily M
  • Bellini, Andrea
  • Gleisinger, Robert
  • Haggard, Daryl
  • Kamann, Sebastian
  • Leigh, Nathan WC
  • Mathieu, Robert D
  • Sills, Alison
  • Watkins, Laura L
  • Zurek, David

publication date

  • May 10, 2017