The Role of Evolutionary Age and Metallicity in the Formation of Classical Be Circumstellar Disks I. New Candidate Be Stars in the LMC, SMC, and Milky Way

John P. Wisniewski$^1$ and Karen S. Bjorkman$^2$

1 - USRA/NASA GSFC; 2 - University of Toledo

We present B, V, R, and H$\alpha$ photometry of 8 clusters in the Small Magellanic Cloud, 5 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and 3 Galactic clusters, and use 2 color diagrams (2-CDs) to identify candidate Be star populations in these clusters. We find evidence that the Be phenomenon is enhanced in low metallicity environments, based on the observed fractional early-type candidate Be star content of clusters of age 10-25 Myr. Numerous candidate Be stars of spectral types B0 to B5 were identified in clusters of age 5-8 Myr, challenging the suggestion of Fabregat \& Torrejon (2000) that classical Be stars should only be found in clusters at least 10 Myr old. These results suggest that a significant number of B-type stars must emerge onto the zero-age-main-sequence as rapid rotators. We also detect an enhancement in the fractional content of early-type candidate Be stars in clusters of age 10-25 Myr, suggesting that the Be phenomenon does become more prevalent with evolutionary age. We briefly discuss the mechanisms which might contribute to such an evolutionary effect. A discussion of the limitations of utilizing the 2-CD technique to investigate the role evolutionary age and/or metallicity play in the development of the Be phenomenon is offered, and we provide evidence that other B-type objects of very different nature, such as candidate Herbig Ae/Be stars may contaminate the claimed detections of ``Be stars'' via 2-CDs.

Reference: ApJ
Status: Manuscript has been accepted