The Globular Cluster Systems in the Coma Ellipticals. III. The Unique Case of IC 4051 Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Using archival \hst WFPC2 data, we derive the metallicity distribution, luminosity function, and spatial structure of the globular cluster system around IC 4051, a giant E galaxy on the outskirts of the Coma cluster core. The metallicity distribution derived from the (V-I) colors has a mean [Fe/H] = -0.3, a near-complete lack of metal-poor clusters, and only a small metallicity gradient with radius; it may, however, have two roughly equal metallicity subcomponents, centered at [Fe/H] ~ 0.0 and -1.0. The luminosity distribution (GCLF) has the Gaussian-like form observed in all other giant E galaxies, with a peak (turnover) at V = 27.8, consistent with a Coma distance of 100 Mpc. The radial profiles of both the GCS and the halo light show an unusually steep falloff which may indicate that the halo of this galaxy has been tidally truncated. Lastly, the specific frequency of the GCS is remarkably large: we find S_N = 11 +- 2, resembling the central cD-type galaxies even though IC 4051 is not a cD or brightest cluster elliptical. A formation model consistent with most of the observations would be that this galaxy was subjected to removal of a large fraction of its protogalactic gas shortly after its main phase of globular cluster formation, probably by its first passage through the Coma core. Since then, no significant additions due to accretions or mergers have taken place.

publication date

  • June 2000