The open cluster NGC 6791 is more metal-rich than any other open cluster, yet several hot blue horizontal branch (BHB) stars are probable members. We have performed an abundance analysis of the coolest such star, 2-17, which has a radial velocity and a proper motion which support cluster membership. We find parameters typical of a metal-rich BHB star, with rotational velocity = 16 ± 1 km/s, an effective temperature Teff = 7250 ± 150 K, log gravity = 3.5 ±0.5 dex, and an iron abundance more than twice solar, [Fe/H] = +0.4 ± 0.1 dex. The light even-Z elements Mg, Ca, and Si are further enhanced, ruling out A-star peculiarities. Its analysis thus establishes the cluster metallicity accurately, free from serious blending which is problematical in metal-rich giants. Abundances of C, N, and O suggest little mixing. Visual comparison of the spectra of red HB stars in the cluster with that of the field star μ Leo indicates that the spectra are indistinguishable except for stronger CN in the former.
The high iron abundance, the light-element overabundances, the spectral similarity to strong-lined field giants, and the extensive presence of hot stars all highlight the fact that this old open cluster provides an excellent template for the study of metal-rich extragalactic systems. Properties of cluster members should establish not only accurate abundances for comparison with scenarios of nucelosynthesis and star formation, but also provide a testbed for ideas of the production of hot stars in a metal-rich environment, and so for the generation of the ultraviolet upturn in elliptical galaxies.