Age and metallicity of compact stellar systems in Virgo and Fornax

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Impact Factor: 5.11). 04/2009; 394(4). DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14479.x
Source: OAI


For high signal-to-noise ratio GMOS-N and AAOmega spectra, we have measured line-strength indices in the Lick/IDS system for several luminous and spatially dispersed compact stellar systems (CSSs) located in the Virgo and Fornax galaxy clusters. We estimate their [alpha/Fe] ratios, ages and metallicities using a simple (single-burst) stellar population model We confirm that the Virgo core region luminous CSSs (M(bj) <= -10.5) contain ancient stellar populations with subsolar total metallicities, suggesting that they comprise the bright tail of M87's GC distribution. The two Virgo intracluster globular clusters have ages and metallicities consistent with the cluster core CSSs. Two Fornax luminous CSSs also have ancient stellar populations but are at the upper end of the Virgo CSS metallicity range, while the third (UCD3) appears to be relatively young, metal-rich and with a core + halo radial profile. Our results suggest that Fornax may contain an extra population of luminous CSSs formed more recently than the ancient GC-like systems found in both clusters.

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    ABSTRACT: To address the question of whether the so-called ultracompact dwarf galaxies (UCDs) are the remnant nuclei of destroyed early-type dwarf galaxies (dEs), we analyze the stellar population parameters of the nuclei of 34 Virgo dEs, as well as 10 Virgo UCDs, including one that we discovered and which we report on here. Based on absorption-line strength (Lick index) measurements, we find that nuclei of Virgo dEs have younger stellar population ages than UCDs, with averages of 5 Gyr and >10 Gyr, respectively. In addition to this, the metallicity also differs: dE nuclei are on average more metal-rich than UCDs. On the other hand, comparing the stellar population parameters at the same local galaxy density, with UCDs being located in the high-density cluster regions, we do not find any difference in the stellar populations of dE nuclei and UCDs. In those regions, the dE nuclei are as old and as metal-poor as UCDs. This evidence suggests that the Virgo UCDs may have formed through the stripping of dE nuclei. Based on observations collected at the European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere, Chile (programs 078.B-0178 and 085.B-0971).
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 11/2010; 724(1). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/724/1/L64 · 5.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the internal kinematics of UCD3, the brightest known ultracompact dwarf galaxy (UCD) in the Fornax cluster, making this the first UCD with spatially resolved spectroscopy. Our study is based on seeing-limited observations obtained with the ARGUS Integral Field Unit of the VLT/FLAMES spectrograph under excellent seeing conditions (0.5–0.67 arcsec FWHM). The velocity field of UCD3 shows the signature of weak rotation, comparable to that found in massive globular clusters. Its velocity dispersion profile is fully consistent with an isotropic velocity distribution and the assumption that mass follows the light distribution obtained from Hubble Space Telescope imaging. In particular, there is no evidence for the presence of an extended dark matter halo contributing a significant (≳33 per cent within R < 200 pc) mass fraction, nor for a central black hole more massive than ∼5 per cent of the UCD's mass. While this result does not exclude a galaxian origin for UCD3, we conclude that its internal kinematics are fully consistent with it being a massive star cluster.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters 06/2011; 414(1):L70 - L74. DOI:10.1111/j.1745-3933.2011.01058.x · 5.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the most extensive combined photometric and spectroscopic study to date of the enormous globular cluster (GC) system around M87, the central giant elliptical galaxy in the nearby Virgo Cluster. Using observations from DEIMOS and the Low Resolution Imaging Spectrometer at Keck, and Hectospec on the Multiple Mirror Telescope, we derive new, precise radial velocities for 451 GCs around M87, with projected radii from ~5 to 185 kpc. We combine these measurements with literature data for a total sample of 737 objects, which we use for a re-examination of the kinematics of the GC system of M87. The velocities are analyzed in the context of archival wide-field photometry and a novel Hubble Space Telescope catalog of half-light radii, which includes sizes for 344 spectroscopically confirmed clusters. We use this unique catalog to identify 18 new candidate ultracompact dwarfs and to help clarify the relationship between these objects and true GCs. We find much lower values for the outer velocity dispersion and rotation of the GC system than in earlier papers and also differ from previous work in seeing no evidence for a transition in the inner halo to a potential dominated by the Virgo Cluster, nor for a truncation of the stellar halo. We find little kinematical evidence for an intergalactic GC population. Aided by the precision of the new velocity measurements, we see significant evidence for kinematical substructure over a wide range of radii, indicating that M87 is in active assembly. A simple, scale-free analysis finds less dark matter within ~85 kpc than in other recent work, reducing the tension between X-ray and optical results. In general, out to a projected radius of ~150 kpc, our data are consistent with the notion that M87 is not dynamically coupled to the Virgo Cluster; the core of Virgo may be in the earliest stages of assembly.
    The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 12/2011; 197(2):33. DOI:10.1088/0067-0049/197/2/33 · 11.22 Impact Factor
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