The acs fornax cluster survey. IX. the color-magnitude relation of globular cluster systems

Steffen Mieske, Andrés Jordn, Patrick Cté, Eric W. Peng, Laura Ferrarese, John P. Blakeslee, Simona Mei, Holger Baumgardt, John L. Tonry, Leopoldo Infante, Michael J. West

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52 Scopus citations


We investigate the color-magnitude relation for globular clusters (GCs) - the so-called blue tilt - detected in the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) Fornax Cluster Survey and using the combined sample of GCs from the ACS Fornax and Virgo Cluster Surveys. We find a tilt of γz ≡ d(g - z)/dz = -0.0257±0.0050 for the full GC sample of the Fornax Cluster Survey (5800 GCs). This is slightly shallower than the value γz = -0.0459±0.0048 found for the Virgo Cluster Survey GC sample (11,100 GCs). The slope for the merged Fornax and Virgo data sets (16,900GCs) is γz = -0.0293±0.0085, corresponding to a mass-metallicity relation of Z M 0.430.12. We find that the blue tilt sets in at masses in excess of M 2 × 105 M·. The tilt is stronger for GCs belonging to high-mass galaxies (M* ≳ 5 × 1010 M·) than for those in low-mass galaxies (M * ≲ 5 × 1010 M ·). It is also more pronounced for GCs with smaller galactocentric distances. Our findings suggest a range of mass-metallicity relations Z GC M 0.3-0.7 GC which vary as a function of host galaxy mass/luminosity, a scaling similar to that observed for dwarf spheroidal galaxies. We compare our observations to a recent model of star cluster self-enrichment with generally favorable results. We suggest that, within the context of this model, the protocluster clouds out of which the GCs formed may have had density profiles slightly steeper than isothermal and/or star formation efficiencies somewhat below 0.3. We caution, however, that the significantly different appearance of the color-magnitude diagrams (CMDs) defined by the GC systems associated with galaxies of similar mass and morphological type poses a challenge to any single mechanism, including self-enrichment, that seeks to explain generically the observed GC color-magnitude relations. We therefore suggest that the detailed (and stochastic) merger/accretion histories of individual galaxies have likely played a non-negligible role determining the distribution of GCs in the CMDs of individual GC systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1672-1682
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: clusters: individual (Fornax, Virgo)
  • Galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • Globular clusters: general


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