M87, Globular Clusters, and Galactic Winds: Issues in Giant Galaxy Formation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • New VRI photometry is presented for the globular clusters in the innermost 140'' of the M87 halo. The results are used to discuss several issues concerning the formation and evolution of globular cluster systems in supergiant ellipticals like M87. (1) we find no significant change in the globular cluster luminosity function (GCLF) with galactocentric radius, for cluster masses M < 10^5 solar masses, indicating that the main effects of dynamical evolution may be only on lower-mass clusters. (2) Within the core radius (1') of the globular cluster system, the metallicity distribution is uniform, but at larger radii the mean metallicity declines steadily as Z ~ r^-0.9. (3) The various options for explaining the existence of high specific frequency galaxies like M87 are evaluated, and scaling laws for the GCSs in these galaxies are given. Interpretations involving secondary evolution (formation of many globular clusters during mergers, intergalactic globular clusters, etc.) are unlikely to be the primary explanation for high-S_N galaxies. (4) We suggest that central-supergiant E galaxies may have formed in an exceptionally turbulent or high-density environment in which an early, powerful galactic wind drove out a high fraction of the protogalactic gas, thus artificially boosting the specific

publication date

  • May 1998