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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/43965
- Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the globular cluster system around NGC 5846
- Forbes, Duncan A.; Brodie, Jean P.; Huchra, John P.
- Bimodal globular cluster metallicity distributions have now been seen in a handful of large ellipticals. Here we report the discovery of a bimodal distribution in the dominant group elliptical NGC 5846, using the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). The two peaks are located at V-I=0.96 and 1.17, which roughly correspond to metallicities of [Fe/H]=-1.2 and -0.2, respectively. The luminosity functions of the blue and red subpopulations appear to be the same, indicating that luminosity does not correlate with metallicity within an individual galaxy's globular cluster system. Our WFPC2 data cover three pointings allowing us to examine the spatial distribution of globular clusters out to 30 kpc (or 2.5 galaxy effective radii). We find a power law surface density with a very flat slope, and a tendency for globular clusters to align close to the galaxy minor axis. An extrapolation of the surface density profile, out to 50 kpc, gives a specific frequency S-N=4.3+/-1.1. Thus NGC 5846 has a much lower specific frequency than other dominant ellipticals in clusters but is similar to those in groups. The central galaxy regions reveal some filamentary dust features, presumably from a past merger or accretion of a gas-rich galaxy. This dust reaches to the very nucleus and so provides an obvious source of fuel for the radio core. We have searched for proto-globular clusters that may have resulted from the merger/accretion and find none. Finally, we briefly discuss the implications of our results for globular cluster formation mechanisms.
- Publication type
- Journal article
- Astronomical Journal, Vol. 113, no. 3 (Mar 1997), pp. 887-894
- Publication year
- Discovery; Elliptical galaxies; HST; Hubble Space Telescope; NGC 5846; Photometry; Planetary camera; Star clusters; WFPC2; Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2
- University of Chicago Press
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 1997 The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
- Peer reviewed