Relative ages of Galactic globular clusters. Clues to the Milky Way formation time scales
Based on observations with the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), I will present accurate relative ages for a sample of 64 Galactic globular clusters. This Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Treasury program has been designed to provide a new large, deep and homogeneous photometric database. Relative ages have been obtained using a main sequence fitting procedure between clusters in the sample. Relative ages are determined with an accuracy from 2% to 7%. It has been proved that derived ages are independent of the assumed theoretical models. The existence of two well defined Galactic globular cluster groups is found. A group of old globular clusters with an age dispersion of 6% and showing no age-metallicity relation, and, on the other hand, a younger group showing a clear age-metallicity relation similar to that found in the globular clusters associated to the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. Roughly 1/3 of the clusters belong to the younger group. Considering these new results, it is very tempting to suggest a Milky Way's halo formation scenario in which two differentiated phases took place. A very fast collapse, where the old and coeval globular clusters where formed, followed by accretions of Milky Way's satellite galaxies.
About the talk
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain