An optical/NIR survey of globular clusters in early-type galaxies

Dr. Ana Chies Santos

Abstract

The colour distribution of globular cluster (GC) systems in the majority of galaxies is bi/multimodal in optical colours. It is widely accepted that multiple populations differing in metallicity exist implying different mechanisms/epochs of star formation, with small age differences still being allowed due to the large current uncertainties. Recently Yoon, Yi and Lee (2006) challenged this interpretation stating that the metallicity bimodality is an artifact of the horizontal branch (HB) morphologies that can transform a unimodal metallicity distribution in a bimodal (optical) colour distribution. The combination of optical and near-infrared (NIR) colours can in principal break the age/metallicity degeneracy inherent in optical colours alone, allowing age estimates for a large sample of GCs possible at the same time. It has been shown that the colours that best represent the true metallicity distributions are the combination of optical and NIR (eg. Puzia et al. 2002, Cantiello & Blakeslee 2007). Therefore studying GCs in the NIR is crucial to reveal their true metallicity distributions. We are currently building a homogeneous optical/NIR data set of GC systems in a large sample of elliptical and lenticular galaxies. I will present the sample, an attempt to estimate overall ages and metallicities for the GC systems and the optical/NIR colour distributions.

About the talk

An optical/NIR survey of globular clusters in early-type galaxies
Dr. Ana Chies Santos
Astronomical Institute Utrecht, the Netherlands
Wednesday March 18, 2009
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