Structural parameters from ground-based observations of newly discovered globular clusters in NGC 5128 Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We have investigated a number of globular cluster candidates from a recent wide-field study by Harris et al. (2004a) of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 5128. We used the Magellan I telescope + MagIC camera under excellent seeing (0.3"-0.6") and obtained very high resolution images for a sample of 44 candidates. Our images allow us to study the light profiles of the likely clusters. This is the first ground-based study of structural parameters for globular clusters outside the Local Group. We compare the psf-deconvolved profiles with King models and derive structural parameters, ellipticities and surface brightnesses. In general, our clusters are similar in size, ellipticity, core radius and central surface brightness to their counterparts in other galaxies, in particular those in NGC 5128 observed with HST by Harris et al. (2002). However, they extend to higher ellipticities and larger half-light radii than their Galactic counterparts. Combining our results with those of Harris et al. fills in the gaps previously existing in $r_h - M_V$ parameter space and indicates that any substantial difference between presumed distinct cluster types in this diagram, including for example the Faint Fuzzies of Larsen & Brodie (2000) and the `extended, luminous' M31 clusters of Huxor et al. (2005) is now removed and that clusters form a continuum in this diagram. Indeed, this continuum now extends to the realm of the Ultra Compact Dwarfs. We have carried out additional analysis to quantify the contamination by background galaxies. This shows that, although galaxies cannot be easily told apart from clusters in some of the structural diagrams, the combination of excellent image quality and Washington photometry should limit the contamination to roughly 10% of the population of cluster candidates.

publication date

  • March 2006