Journal Article

The globular clusters–stellar haloes connection in early-type galaxies

Juan C. Forte, E. Irene Vega and Favio Faifer

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 397, issue 2, pages 1003-1020
Published in print August 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The globular clusters–stellar haloes connection in early-type galaxies

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This paper explores if, and to what an extent, the stellar populations of early-type galaxies can be traced through the colour distribution of their globular cluster (GC) systems. The analysis, based on a galaxy sample from the Virgo Advanced Camera for Surveys data, is an extension of a previous approach that has been successful in the cases of the giant ellipticals NGC 1399 and NGC 4486, and assumes that the two dominant GC populations form along diffuse stellar populations sharing the cluster chemical abundances and spatial distributions. The results show that (a) integrated galaxy colours can be matched to within the photometric uncertainties and are consistent with a narrow range of ages; (b) the inferred mass to luminosity ratios and stellar masses are within the range of values available in the literature; (c) most GC systems occupy a thick plane in the volume space defined by the cluster formation efficiency, total stellar mass and projected surface mass density. The formation efficiency parameter of the red clusters shows a dependency with projected stellar mass density that is absent for the blue globulars. In turn, the brightest galaxies appear clearly detached from that plane as a possible consequence of major past mergers; (d) the stellar mass–metallicity relation is relatively shallow but shows a slope change at M*≈ 1010 M. Galaxies with smaller stellar masses show predominantly unimodal GC colour distributions. This result may indicate that less massive galaxies are not able to retain chemically enriched interstellar matter.

Keywords: globular clusters: general; galaxies: haloes; galaxies: star clusters

Journal Article.  7017 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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