It is shown that the intrinsic spread in the absolute magnitudes of the RR Lyrae variables in a given globular cluster can reach 0.5 magnitudes at a given period or at a given color, due to luminosity evolution away from the zero age horizontal (ZAHB). The size of this intrinsic luminosity spread is largest in clusters of the highest metallicity.
The absolute magnitude of the ZAHB itself also differs from cluster to cluster as a function of metallicity, being brightest in clusters of the lowest metallicity. Three independent methods of calibrating the ZAHB RR Lyrae luminosities each show a strong variation of MV(RR) with [Fe/H]. The pulsation equation of P<ρ>0.5 = Q(M,Te, L) used with the observed periods, temperatures, and masses of field and of cluster RR Lyraes gives the very steep luminosity-metallicity dependence of dMv(RR)/d[Fe/H] = 0.42. Main sequence fitting of the color-magnitude diagrams of clusters which have modern main-sequence photometry gives a confirming steep slope of 0.39. A summary of Baade-Wesselink MV(RR) values for field stars determined in four independent recent studies also shows a luminosity-metallicity dependence, but less steep with a slope of dMV(RR)/d[Fe/H] = 0.21.
Observations show that the magnitude difference between the main sequence turn-off point and the ZAHB in a number of well observed globular clusters is independent of [Fe/H], and has a stable value of dV = 3.54 with a disperion of only 0.1 magnitudes. Using this fact, the absolute magnitude of the main sequence turn-off is determined in any given globular cluster from the observed apparent magnitude of the ZAHB by adopting any particular MV(RR) = f([Fe/H]) calibration.
Ages of the clusters are shown to vary with [Fe/H] by amounts that depend upon the slopes of the MV(RR) = f([Fe/H]) calibrations. The calibrations show that there would be a steep dependence of the age on [Fe/H] if MV(RR) does not depend on [Fe/H]. No dependence of age on metallicity exists if the RR Lyrae luminosities depend on [Fe/H] as dMV(RR)/d[Fe/H] = 0.37. If Oxygen is not enhanced as [Fe/H] decreases, the absolute average age of the globular cluster system is 16 Gyr, independent of [Fe/H], using the steep MV(RR)/[Fe/H] calibration that is favored. If Oxygen is enhanced by [O/Fe] = – 0.14 [Fe/H] + 0.40 for [Fe/H] < –1.0, as suggested from the observations of field subdwarfs, then the age of the globular cluster system decreases to 13 Gyr, again independent of [Fe/H], if the RR Lyrae ZAHB luminosities have a metallicity dependence of dMV(RR)/d[Fe/H] = 0.37.