Astrophys. J., 611, 220-244 (2004/August-2)
The globular cluster systems of five nearby spiral galaxies: new insights from Hubble space telescope imaging.
CHANDAR R., WHITMORE B. and LEE M.G.
Abstract (from CDS):
We use available multifilter Hubble Space Telescope (HST) WFPC2 imaging of five (M81, M83, NGC 6946, M101, and M51, in order of distance) low-inclination, nearby spiral galaxies to study ancient star cluster populations. Combining rigorous selection criteria to reject contaminants (individual stars, background galaxies, and blends) with optical photometry including the U bandpass, we unambiguously detect ancient globular cluster (GC) systems in each galaxy. We present luminosities, colors, and size (effective radius) measurements for our candidate GCs. These are used to estimate specific frequencies, to assess whether intrinsic color distributions are consistent with the presence of both metal-poor and metal-rich GCs, and to compare relative sizes of ancient clusters between different galaxy systems. M81 globulars have intrinsic color distributions that are very similar to those in the Milky Way and M31, with ∼40% of sample clusters having colors expected for a metal-rich population. The GC system in M51 meanwhile, appears almost exclusively blue and metal-poor. This lack of metal-rich GCs associated with the M51 bulge indicates that the bulge formation history of this Sbc galaxy may have differed significantly from that of our own. Ancient clusters in M101 and possibly in NGC 6946, two of the three later type spirals in our sample, appear to have luminosity distributions that continue to rise to our detection limit (MV~-6.0), well beyond the expected turnover (MV~-7.4) in the luminosity function. This is reminiscent of the situation in M33, a Local Group galaxy of similar Hubble type. The faint ancient cluster candidates in M101 and NGC 6946 have properties (colors and reff) similar to their more luminous counterparts, and we suggest that these are either intermediate-age (3-9 Gyr) disk clusters or the low-mass end of the original GC population. Potentially, these lower mass clusters were not destroyed because of different dynamical conditions relative to those present in earlier type galaxies. If the faint, excess GC candidates are excluded, we find that the specific frequency (SN) of ancient clusters formed in later type spirals is roughly constant, with SN=0.5±0.2. If we consider only the blue, metal-poor clusters in the early-type spiral M81, this galaxy is also consistent with having formed a ``universal'' specific frequency of halo GC population, with a value of SN∼0.6. By combining the results of this study with literature values for other systems, we find that the total GC specific frequencies in spirals appear to correlate best with Hubble type and bulge/total ratio, rather than with galaxy luminosity or galaxy mass.
Galaxies: Evolution - Galaxies: Halos - Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M51 - Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M81 - Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M83 - Galaxies: Individual: Messier Number: M101 - Galaxies: Individual: NGC Number: NGC 6946 - Galaxies: Star Clusters
Table 3: [CWL2004] M 81 NN (Nos 1-47). Table 4: [CWL2004] M 83 NN (Nos 1-21). Table 5: [CWL2004] NGC 6946 NN (Nos 1-19). Table 6: [CWL2004] M 101 NN (Nos 1-29). Table 7: [CWL2004] M 51 NN (Nos 1-34).
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