Context. Globular clusters are the oldest stellar systems in the Milky Way, and they probe the early epoch of the Galaxy formation. However, the uncertainties on their absolute age are still too large to soundly constrain how the Galactic structures have assembled. Aims. The aim of this work is to obtain an accurate estimate of the absolute age of the globular cluster NGC 2808 using deep IR data obtained with the multi-conjugate adaptive optics system operating at the Gemini South telescope (GeMS). Methods. This exquisite photometry, combined with that obtained in V and I-bands with HST, allowed us to detect the faint Main Sequence Knee feature in NGC 2808 colour magnitude diagram. The difference between this point and the main sequence turn-off is a good age estimator that provides ages with unprecedented accuracy. Results. We find that NGC 2808 has an age of t = 10.9 ± 0.7 (intrinsic) ±0.45 (metallicity term) Gyr. A possible contamination by He-enhanced population could make the cluster up to 0.25 Gyr older. Although this age estimate agrees with the age coming from the classical turn-off method (t = 11.0 Gyr), its uncertainty is a factor ~3 better, since it avoids systematics in reddening, distance assumptions, and photometric zero point determination. The final absolute age indicates that NGC 2808 is slightly younger than other Galactic globular clusters with similar metallicity.
Astronomy and Astrophysics586, A51 (26 January 2016).