THE AGES, METALLICITIES, AND ALPHA ELEMENT ENHANCEMENTS OF GLOBULAR CLUSTERS IN THE ELLIPTICAL NGC 5128: A HOMOGENEOUS SPECTROSCOPIC STUDY WITH GEMINI/GEMINI MULTI-OBJECT SPECTROGRAPH Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We present new integrated light spectroscopy of globular clusters (GCs) in NGC 5128 in order to measure radial velocities and derive ages, metallicities, and alpha-element abundance ratios. Using Gemini-S 8-m/GMOS, we obtained spectroscopy in the range of ~3400-5700 AA for 72 GCs with S/N > 30 /AA and we have also discovered 35 new GCs within NGC 5128 from our radial velocity measurements. We measured and compared the Lick indices from HdeltaA through Fe5406 with the single stellar population (SSP) models of Thomas et al.(2003,2004). We also measure Lick indices for 41 Milky Way GCs from Puzia et al. (2002) and Schiavon et al. (2005) with the same methodology for direct comparison. Our results show that 68% of the NGC 5128 GCs have old ages (> 8 Gyr), 14% have intermediate ages (5-8 Gyr), and 18% have young ages (< 5 Gyr). However, when we look at the metallicity of the GCs as a function of age, we find 92% of metal-poor GCs and 56% of metal-rich GCs in NGC 5128 have ages > 8 Gyr, indicating that the majority of both metallicity subpopulations of GCs formed early, with a significant population of young and metal-rich GCs forming later. Our metallicity distribution function generated directly from spectroscopic Lick indices is clearly bimodal, as is the color distribution of the same set of GCs. Thus the metallicity bimodality is real and not an artifact of the color to metallicity conversion. The [alpha/Fe] values are supersolar with a mean value of 0.14pm0.04, indicating a fast formation timescale. However, the GCs in NGC 5128 are not as [alpha/Fe] enhanced as the Milky Way GCs also examined in this study. Our results support a rapid, early formation of the GC system in NGC 5128, with subsequent major accretion and/or GC and star forming events in more recent times (abridged).

authors

  • Woodley, Kristin A
  • Harris, William Edgar
  • Puzia, Thomas H
  • Gómez, Matías
  • Harris, Gretchen LH
  • Geisler, Doug

publication date

  • January 10, 2010