Journal Article

The globular cluster/central black hole connection in galaxies

Gretchen L. H. Harris and William E. Harris

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 410, issue 4, pages 2347-2352
Published in print February 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The globular cluster/central black hole connection in galaxies

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We explore the relation between the total globular population in a galaxy (NGC) and the mass of its central black hole (M). Using a sample of 33 galaxies, twice as large as the original sample discussed by Burkert & Tremaine (2010), we find that NGC for elliptical and spiral galaxies increases in almost precisely direct proportion to M. The S0-type galaxies by contrast do not follow a clear trend, showing large scatter in M at a given NGC. After accounting for observational measurement uncertainty, we find that the mean relation defined by the E and S galaxies must also have an intrinsic or ‘cosmic’ scatter of ±0.2 in either log NGC or log M. The residuals from this correlation show no trend with globular cluster specific frequency. We suggest that these two types of galaxy subsystems (central black hole and globular cluster system) may be closely correlated because they both originated at high redshift during the main epoch of hierarchical merging, and both require extremely high-density conditions for formation. Lastly, we note that roughly 10 per cent of the galaxies in our sample (one E, one S and two S0) deviate strongly from the main trend, all in the sense that their M is at least 10 times smaller than would be predicted by the mean relation.

Keywords: black hole physics; globular clusters: general; galaxies: star clusters: general

Journal Article.  4729 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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