The Halo Stars in NGC 5128. III. An Inner Halo Field and the Metallicity Distribution Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We present new HST/WFPC2 (V,I) photometry for the red-giant stars in NGC 5128 at a projected distance of 8 kpc from the galaxy center, which probe a mixture of its inner halo and outer bulge. The color-magnitude diagram shows an old red-giant branch which is even broader in color than our two previously studied outer-halo fields (at 21 and 31 kpc), with significant numbers of stars extending to Solar metallicity and higher. The peak frequency of the metallicity distribution function (MDF) is at [m/H] ~ -0.4, with even fewer metal-poor stars than in the outer-halo fields. We find that the main features of the halo MDF can be reproduced by a simple chemical evolution model in which early star formation goes on simultaneously with an initial stage of rapid infall of very metal-poor gas, after which the infall dies away exponentially. A comparison with the MDF for the NGC 5128 globular clusters indicates that there is a clear decrease of specific frequency $S_N$ (number of clusters per unit halo light) with increasing metallicity, from S_N ~ 4-8 at [Fe/H] < -1.6 down to S_N = 1.5 at [Fe/H] > -1. This trend may indicate that globular cluster formation efficiency is a strong function of the metallicity of the protocluster gas.

publication date

  • June 2002