Near-Infrared Variability Study of the Central 2.3 arcmin x 2.3 arcmin of the Galactic Centre II. Identification of RR Lyrae Stars in the Milky Way Nuclear Star Cluster

Dong, Hui; Schodel, Rainer; Williams, Benjamin F.; Nogueras-Lara, Francisco; Gallego-Cano, Eulalia; Gallego-Calvente, Teresa; Wang, Q. Daniel; Rich, R. Michael; Morris, Mark R.; Do, Tuan; Ghez, Andrea
eprint arXiv:1706.03299


Because of strong and spatially highly variable interstellar extinction and extreme source crowding, the faint (K>15) stellar population in the Milky Way's nuclear cluster is still poorly studied. RR Lyrae stars provide us with a tool to estimate the mass of the dim oldest stellar population. Recently, we analyzed HST WFC3/IR observations of the central 2.3 arcminx2.3 arcmin (~5x5 pc^2) of the Milky Way and found 21 variable stars with 0.2 d<P<1 d. Here, we present a further comprehensive analysis of these stars. The period-luminosity relationship of RR Lyrae stars was used to derive their foreground extinctions and distances. Using multiple approaches, we classified our sample as four RRc, four and three candidate RRab and ten binaries. Especially, the four RRabs show sawtooth light curves and fall exactly onto the Oosterhoff I division in the Bailey diagram. Compared to the RRabs reported by Minniti et al, 2016, our four new RRabs have higher extinction (A_K>1.8) and should be closer to the Galactic Nuclear Bulge. The extinction and distance of one RRab match those for the nuclear star cluster given in the previous works. We perform simulations and find that after correcting for incompleteness, there could be no more than 40 RRabs within the nuclear star cluster and in our field-of-view. Through comparing with the number of RRabs in the known globular clusters in the Milky Way, we estimate that if there exists an old, metal-poor (-1.5<[Fe/H]<-1) stellar population in the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, then it contributes at most 4.4x10^5 M, i.e. ~17% of the stellar mass.