M. Hilker

European Southern Observatory, Arching, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (219)498.77 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The colour–magnitude diagrams of some intermediate-age (1–2 Gyr) star clusters show unexpectedly broad main-sequence turnoffs, raising the possibility that these clusters have experienced more than one episode of star formation. Such a scenario predicts the existence of an extended main-sequence turnoff (eMSTO) only in clusters with escape velocities above a certain threshold (>15 km s−1), which would allow them to retain or accrete gas that eventually would fuel a secondary extended star formation episode. This paper presents a test of this scenario based on the study of the young and massive cluster NGC 7252: W3. We use the HST photometry from Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and Wide Field Camera 3 images obtained with UV and optical filters, as well as MagE echellette spectrograph data from the Las Campanas Clay 6.5 m telescope, in order to construct the observed UV/optical Spectral energy distribution (SED) of NGC 7252: W3. The observations are then compared with synthetic spectra based on different star formation histories consistent with those of the eMSTO clusters. We find that the SED of this cluster is best fitted by a synthetic spectrum with a single stellar population of age $570^{+70}_{-62}$ Myr and mass $1.13^{+0.14}_{-0.13}\times 10^8$ M⊙, confirming earlier works on NGC 7252:W3. We also estimate the lower limit on the central escape velocity of 193 km s−1. We rule out extended star formation histories, like those inferred for the eMSTO clusters in the Magellanic Clouds, at high confidence. We conclude that the escape velocity of a cluster does not dictate whether a cluster can undergo extended periods of star formation.
    No preview · Article · Jan 2016 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    Michael Hilker · Tom Richtler
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    ABSTRACT: The properties of globular cluster systems (GCSs) in the core of the nearby galaxy clusters Fornax and Hydra I are presented. In the Fornax cluster we have gathered the largest radial velocity sample of a GCS system so far, which enables us to identify photometric and kinematic sub-populations around the central galaxy NGC 1399. Moreover, ages, metallicities and [alpha/Fe] abundances of a sub-sample of 60 bright globular clusters (GCs) with high S/N spectroscopy show a multi-modal distribution in the correlation space of these three parameters, confirming heterogeneous stellar populations in the halo of NGC 1399. In the Hydra I cluster very blue GCs were identified. They are not uniformly distributed around the central galaxies. 3-color photometry including the U-band reveals that some of them are of intermediate age. Their location coincides with a group of dwarf galaxies under disruption. This is evidence of a structurally young stellar halo 'still in formation', which is also supported by kinematic measurements of the halo light that point to a kinematically disturbed system. The most massive GCs divide into generally more extended ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs) and genuine compact GCs. In both clusters, the spatial distribution and kinematics of UCDs are different from those of genuine GCs. Assuming that some UCDs represent nuclei of stripped galaxies, the properties of those UCDs can be used to trace the assembly of nucleated dwarf galaxies into the halos of central cluster galaxies. We show via semi-analytical approaches within a cosmological simulation that only the most massive UCDs in Fornax-like clusters can be explained by stripped nuclei, whereas the majority of lower mass UCDs belong to the star cluster family.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015
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    Michael Hilker
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    ABSTRACT: Most ultra-compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs) and very massive globular clusters reside in nearby galaxy clusters or around nearby giant galaxies. Due to their distance (>Mpc) and compactness (r_eff<100pc) they are barely resolved, and thus it is difficult to obtain their internal properties. Here I present our most recent attempts to constrain the mass function, stellar content and dynamical state of UCDs in the Fornax cluster. Thanks to radial velocity membership assignment of ~950 globular clusters (GCs) and UCDs in the core of Fornax, the shape of their mass function is well constrained. It is consistent with the 'standard' Gaussian mass function of GCs. Our recent simulations on the disruption process of nucleated dwarf galaxies in cluster environments showed that ~40% of the most massive UCDs should originate from nuclear star clusters. Some Fornax UCDs actually show evidence for this scenario, as revealed by extended low surface brightness disks around them and onsets of tidal tails. Multi-band UV to optical imaging as well as low to medium resolution spectroscopy revealed that there exist UCDs with youngish ages, (sub-)solar [alpha/Fe] abundances, and probably He-enriched populations.
    Preview · Article · Dec 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Most star clusters at an intermediate age (1-2 Gyr) in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds show a puzzling feature in their color-magnitude diagrams (CMD) that is not in agreement with a simple stellar population. The main sequence turn-off of these clusters is much broader than would be expected from photometric uncertainties. One interpretation of this feature is that age spreads of the order 200-500 Myr exist within individual clusters, although this interpretation is highly debated. Such large age spreads should affect other parts of the CMD, which are sensitive to age, as well. In this study, we analyze the CMDs of a sample of 12 intermediate-age clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud that all show an extended turn-off using archival optical data taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. We fit the star formation history of the turn-off region and the red clump region independently with two different theoretical isochrone models. We find that in most of the cases, the age spreads inferred from the red clumps are smaller than the ones resulting from the turn-off region. However, the age ranges resulting from the red clump region are broader than would be expected for a single age. Only two out of 12 clusters in our sample show a red clump which seems to be consistent with a single age. As our results are not unambiguous, we can not ultimately tell if the extended main sequence turn-off feature is due to an age spread, or not, by fitting the star formation histories to the red clump regions. However, we find that the width of the extended main sequence turn-off feature is correlated with the age of the clusters in a way which would be unexplained in the "age spread" interpretation, but which may be expected if stellar rotation is the cause of the spread at the turn-off.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    Karina Voggel · Michael Hilker · Tom Richtler
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    ABSTRACT: We present a novel approach to constrain the formation channels of Ultra-Compact Dwarf Galaxies (UCDs). This inhomogeneous class of objects of remnants of tidally stripped dwarf elliptical galaxies and high mass globular clusters. We use three methods to unravel their nature: 1) we analysed their surface brightness profiles, 2) we carried out a direct search for tidal features around UCDs and 3) we compared the spatial distribution of GCs and UCDs in the halo of their host galaxy. Based on FORS2 observations, we have studied the detailed structural composition of a large sample of 97 UCDs in the halo of NGC1399, the central galaxy of the Fornax cluster, by analysing theirsurface brightness profiles. We derived the structural parameters of 13 extended UCDs modelling them with a single Sersic function and decomposing them into composite King and Sersic profiles. We find evidence for faint stellar envelopes at mu=~26 mag\arcsec^-2 surrounding the UCDs up to an extension of 90pc in radius. We also show new evidence for faint asymmetric structures and tidal tail-like features surrounding several of these UCDs, a possible tracer of their origin and assembly history within their host galaxy halos. In particular, we present evidence for the first discovery of a significant tidal tail with an extension of ~350pc around UCD-FORS2. We searched for local overdensities in the spatial distribution of globular clusters within the halo of NGC1399, to see if they are related to the positions of the UCDs. We found a local overabundance of globular clusters on a scale of <1kpc around UCDs, when we compare it to the distribution of globulars from the host galaxy. This effect is strongest for the metal-poor blue GCs. We discuss how likely it is that these clustered globulars were originally associated with the UCD.
    Preview · Article · Oct 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of 158 previously undetected dwarf galaxies in the Fornax cluster central regions using a deep coadded $u, g$ and $i$-band image obtained with the DECam wide-field camera mounted on the 4-meter Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory as part of the {\it Next Generation Fornax Survey} (NGFS). The new dwarf galaxies have quasi-exponential light profiles, effective radii $0.1\!<\!r_e\!<\!2.8$ kpc and average effective surface brightness values $22.0\!<\!\mu_i\!<\!28.0$ mag arcsec$^{-2}$. We confirm the existence of ultra-diffuse galaxies (UDGs) in the Fornax core regions that resemble counterparts recently discovered in the Virgo and Coma galaxy clusters.~We also find extremely low surface brightness NGFS dwarfs, which are several magnitudes fainter than the classical UDGs. The faintest dwarf candidate in our NGFS sample has an absolute magnitude of $M_i\!=\!-8.0$\,mag. The nucleation fraction of the NGFS dwarf galaxy sample appears to decrease as a function of their total luminosity, reaching from a nucleation fraction of $>\!75\%$ at luminosities brighter than $M_i\!\simeq\!-15.0$ mag to $0\%$ at luminosities fainter than $M_i\!\simeq\!-10.0$ mag. The two-point correlation function analysis of the NGFS dwarf sample shows an excess on length scales below $\sim\!100$ kpc, pointing to the clustering of dwarf galaxies in the Fornax cluster core.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2015
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    ABSTRACT: The Galactic centre hosts a crowded, dense nuclear star cluster with a half-light radius of 4 pc. Most of the stars in the Galactic centre are cool late-type stars, but there are also >100 hot early-type stars in the central parsec of the Milky Way. These stars are only 3-8 Myr old. Our knowledge of the number and distribution of early-type stars in the Galactic centre is incomplete. Only a few spectroscopic observations have been made beyond a projected distance of 0.5 pc of the Galactic centre. The distribution and kinematics of early-type stars are essential to understand the formation and growth of the nuclear star cluster. We cover the central >4pc^2 of the Galactic centre using the integral-field spectrograph KMOS. We extracted more than 1,000 spectra from individual stars and identified early-type stars based on their spectra. Our data set contains 114 bright early-type stars: 6 have narrow emission lines, 23 are Wolf-Rayet stars, 9 stars have featureless spectra, and 76 are O/B type stars. Our wide-field spectroscopic data confirm that the distribution of young stars is compact, with 90% of the young stars identified within 0.5 pc of the nucleus. We identify 24 new O/B stars primarily at large radii. We estimate photometric masses of the O/B stars and show that the total mass in the young population is >12,000M_sun. The O/B stars all appear to be bound to the Milky Way nuclear star cluster, while less than 30% belong to the clockwise rotating disk. The central concentration of the early-type stars is a strong argument that they have formed in situ. A large part of the young O/B stars is not on the disk, which either means that the early-type stars did not all form on the same disk or that the disk is dissolving rapidly. [abridged]
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: Recent discoveries have put the picture of stellar clusters being simple stellar populations into question. In particular, the color-magnitude diagrams of intermediate age (1-2 Gyr) massive clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) show features that could be interpreted as age spreads of 100-500 Myr. If multiple generations of stars are present in these clusters then, as a consequence, young (<1 Gyr) clusters with similar properties should have age spreads of the same order. In this paper we use archival Hubble Space Telescope (HST) data of eight young massive LMC clusters (NGC 1831, NGC 1847, NGC 1850, NGC 2004, NGC 2100, NGC 2136, NGC 2157 and NGC 2249) to test this hypothesis. We analyzed the color-magnitude diagrams of these clusters and fitted their star formation history to derive upper limits of potential age spreads. We find that none of the clusters analyzed in this work shows evidence for an extended star formation history that would be consistent with the age spreads proposed for intermediate age LMC clusters. Tests with artificial single age clusters show that the fitted age dispersion of the youngest clusters is consistent with spreads that are purely induced by photometric errors. As an additional result we determined a new age of NGC 1850 of ~100 Myr, significantly higher than the commonly used value of about 30 Myr, although consistent with early HST estimates.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2015 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the globular cluster system of the isolated elliptical NGC 7796, present new photometry of the galaxy, and use published kinematical data to constrain the dark matter content. Deep images in B and R, obtained with the VIsible MultiObject Spectrograph (VIMOS) at the VLT, form the data base. We present isotropic and anisotropic Jeans-models and give a morphological description of the companion dwarf galaxy. The globular cluster system has about 2000 members, so it is not as rich as those of giant ellipticals in galaxy clusters with a comparable stellar mass, but richer than many cluster systems of other isolated ellipticals. The colour distribution of GCs is bimodal, which does not necessarily mean a metallicity bimodality. The kinematic literature data are somewhat inconclusive. The velocity dispersion in the inner parts can be reproduced without dark matter under isotropy. Radially anisotropic models need a low stellar mass-to-light ratio, which would contrast with the old age of the galaxy. A MONDian model is supported by X-ray analysis and previous dynamical modelling, but better data are necessary for a confirmation. The dwarf companion galaxy NGC 7796-1 exhibits tidal tails, multiple nuclei, and very boxy isophotes. NGC 7796 is an old, massive isolated elliptical galaxy with no indications of later major star formation events as seen frequently in other isolated ellipticals. Its relatively rich globular cluster system shows that isolation does not always mean a poor cluster system. The properties of the dwarf companion might indicate a dwarf-dwarf merger. (abridged)
    Preview · Article · Nov 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We use the Millennium II cosmological simulation combined with the semi-analytic galaxy formation model of Guo et al. to predict the contribution of galactic nuclei formed by the tidal stripping of nucleated dwarf galaxies to globular cluster (GC) and ultracompact dwarf galaxy (UCD) populations of galaxies. We follow the merger trees of galaxies in clusters back in time and determine the absolute number and stellar masses of disrupted galaxies. We assume that at all times nuclei have a distribution in nucleus-to-galaxy mass and nucleation fraction of galaxies similar to that observed in the present day Universe. Our results show stripped nuclei follow a mass function N(M) ∼ M−1.5 in the mass range 106 < M/M⊙ < 108, significantly flatter than found for globular clusters. The contribution of stripped nuclei will therefore be most important among high-mass GCs and UCDs. For the Milky Way we predict between one and three star clusters more massive than 105 M⊙ come from tidally disrupted dwarf galaxies, with the most massive cluster formed having a typical mass of a few times 106 M⊙, like ω Centauri. For a galaxy cluster with a mass 7 × 1013 M⊙, similar to Fornax, we predict ∼19 UCDs more massive than 2 × 106 M⊙ and ∼9 UCDs more massive than 107 M⊙ within a projected distance of 300 kpc come from tidally stripped dwarf galaxies. The observed number of UCDs are ∼200 and 23, respectively. We conclude that most UCDs in galaxy clusters are probably simply the high-mass end of the GC mass function.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We used FORS2 in MXU mode to mimic a coarse 'IFU' in order to measure the 3D large-scale kinematics around the central Hydra I cluster galaxy NGC 3311. Our data show that the velocity dispersion field varies as a function of radius and azimuthal angle and violates point symmetry. Also, the velocity field shows similar dependence, hence the stellar halo of NGC 3311 is a dynamically young structure. The kinematic irregularities coincide in position with a displaced diffuse halo North-East of NGC 3311 and with tidal features of a group of disrupting dwarf galaxies. This suggests that the superposition of different velocity components is responsible for the kinematic substructure in the Hydra I cluster core.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
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    ABSTRACT: Several observations of the central region of the Hydra I galaxy cluster point to a multi-epoch assembly history. Using our novel FORS2/VLT spectroscopic data set, we were able to map the luminosity-weighted age, [Fe/H] and [$\alpha$/Fe] distributions for the stellar populations around the cD galaxy NGC 3311. Our results indicate that the stellar populations follow the trends of the photometric substructures, with distinct properties that may aid to constrain the evolutionary scenarios for the formation of the cluster core.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
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    ABSTRACT: We report on ongoing photometric and spectroscopic work on a sample of isolated elliptical galaxies. We investigate their globular cluster systems, and use the kinematics of globular clusters and the integrated galaxy light to constrain their dark halos, which are not found in the cases of NGC 5812 and NGC 7507
    Preview · Article · Sep 2014 · Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
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    ABSTRACT: Ultra-compact dwarf galaxies are among the densest stellar systems in the Universe. These systems have masses of up to 2 × 10(8) solar masses, but half-light radii of just 3-50 parsecs. Dynamical mass estimates show that many such dwarfs are more massive than expected from their luminosity. It remains unclear whether these high dynamical mass estimates arise because of the presence of supermassive black holes or result from a non-standard stellar initial mass function that causes the average stellar mass to be higher than expected. Here we report adaptive optics kinematic data of the ultra-compact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 that show a central velocity dispersion peak exceeding 100 kilometres per second and modest rotation. Dynamical modelling of these data reveals the presence of a supermassive black hole with a mass of 2.1 × 10(7) solar masses. This is 15 per cent of the object's total mass. The high black hole mass and mass fraction suggest that M60-UCD1 is the stripped nucleus of a galaxy. Our analysis also shows that M60-UCD1's stellar mass is consistent with its luminosity, implying a large population of previously unrecognized supermassive black holes in other ultra-compact dwarf galaxies.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · Nature
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    ABSTRACT: We use the Millennium II cosmological simulation combined with the semi-analytic galaxy formation model of Guo et al. (2011) to predict the contribution of galactic nuclei formed by the tidal stripping of nucleated dwarf galaxies to globular cluster (GC) and ultra-compact dwarf galaxy (UCD) populations of galaxies. We follow the merger trees of galaxies in clusters back in time and determine the absolute number and stellar masses of disrupted galaxies. We assume that at all times nuclei have a distribution in nucleus-to-galaxy mass and nucleation fraction of galaxies similar to that observed in the present day universe. Our results show stripped nuclei follow a mass function $N(M) \sim M^{-1.5}$ in the mass range $10^6 < M/M_\odot < 10^8$, significantly flatter than found for globular clusters. The contribution of stripped nuclei will therefore be most important among high-mass GCs and UCDs. For the Milky Way we predict between 1 and 3 star clusters more massive than $10^5 M_\odot$ come from tidally disrupted dwarf galaxies, with the most massive cluster formed having a typical mass of a few times $10^6 M_\odot$, like omega Centauri. For a galaxy cluster with a mass $7 \times 10^{13} M_\odot$, similar to Fornax, we predict $\sim$19 UCDs more massive than $2\times10^6 M_\odot$ and $\sim$9 UCDs more massive than $10^7 M_\odot$ within a projected distance of 300 kpc come from tidally stripped dwarf galaxies. The observed number of UCDs are $\sim$200 and 23, respectively. We conclude that most UCDs in galaxy clusters are probably simply the high mass end of the GC mass function.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2014
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    ABSTRACT: CRIRES, the ESO high resolution infrared spectrometer, is a unique instrument which allows astronomers to access a parameter space which up to now was largely uncharted. In its current setup, it consists of a single-order spectrograph providing long-slit, single-order spectroscopy with resolving power up to R=100,000 over a quite narrow spectral range. This has resulted in sub-optimal efficiency and use of telescope time for all the scientific programs requiring broad spectral coverage of compact objects (e.g. chemical abundances of stars and intergalactic medium, search and characterization of extra-solar planets). To overcome these limitations, a consortium was set-up for upgrading CRIRES to a cross-dispersed spectrometer, called CRIRES+. This paper presents the updated optical design of the crossdispersion module for CRIRES+. This new module can be mounted in place of the current pre-disperser unit. The new system yields a factor of >10 increase in simultaneous spectral coverage and maintains a quite long slit (10"), ideal for observations of extended sources and for precise sky-background subtraction.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014
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    ABSTRACT: High-resolution infrared spectroscopy plays an important role in astrophysics from the search for exoplanets to cosmology. Yet, many existing infrared spectrographs are limited by a rather small simultaneous wavelength coverage. The AO assisted CRIRES instrument, installed at the ESO VLT on Paranal, is one of the few IR (0.92-5.2 μm) highresolution spectrographs in operation since 2006. However it has a limitation that hampers its efficient use: the wavelength range covered in a single exposure is limited to ∼15 nanometers. The CRIRES Upgrade project (CRIRES+) will transform CRIRES into a cross-dispersed spectrograph and will also add new capabilities. By introducing crossdispersion elements the simultaneously covered wavelength range will be increased by at least a factor of 10 with respect to the present configuration, while the operational wavelength range will be preserved. For advanced wavelength calibration, new custom made absorption gas cells and etalons will be added. A spectro-polarimetric unit will allow one for the first time to record circularly polarized spectra at the highest spectral resolution. This will be all supported by a new data reduction software which will allow the community to take full advantage of the new capabilities of CRIRES+.
    No preview · Article · Jul 2014
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    ABSTRACT: The merger remnant NGC 1316 (Fornax A) is one of the most important objects regarding the investigation of merger-related processes. We use kinematical data of globular clusters (GCs) and the diffuse stellar light to investigate the global structure of NGC 1316 and to constrain the dark matter content. We perform multi-object-spectroscopy with VLT/FORS2 and MXU. Out of 562 slits, we extract radial velocities for 177 GCs. Moreover, we measure radial velocities of the integrated galaxy light, using slits with a sufficiently bright "sky". To these data, we add 20 cluster velocities from Goudfrooij et al. (2001). In an appendix, we identify new morphological features of NGC 1316 and its companion galaxy NGC 1317. The GC sample based on radial velocities confirms the colour peaks already found in our photometric study. The bright clusters, which probably have their origin in a 2 Gyr-old starburst and younger star formation events, avoid the systemic velocity. A Gaussian velocity distribution is found only for clusters fainter than about m_R=22 mag. The velocity distribution of clusters shows a pronounced peak at 1600 km/s. These clusters populate a wide area in the south-western region which we suspect to be a disk population. Globular clusters or subsamples of them do not show a clear rotation signal. This is different from the galaxy light, where rotation along the major axis is discernable out to 3 arcmin radius. A simple spherical model like that suggested by dynamical analyses of planetary nebulae reproduces also the velocity dispersions of the faint GCs. The central dark matter density of the present model resembles a giant elliptical galaxy. This contradicts population properties which indicate spiral galaxies as pre-merger components. MOND would provide a solution, but the kinematical complexity of NGC 1316 does not allow a really firm conclusion. (abridged)
    Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the colour-magnitude relation of metal-poor globular clusters, the 'blue tilt', in the Hydra and Centaurus galaxy clusters and constrain the primordial conditions for star cluster self-enrichment. We analyse U,I photometry for about 2500 globular clusters in the central regions of Hydra and Centaurus, based on FORS1@VLT data. We convert the measured colour-magnitude relations into mass-metallicity space and obtain a scaling of Z \propto M^{0.27 \pm 0.05} for Centaurus GCs and Z \propto M^{0.40 \pm 0.06} for Hydra GCs, consistent with results in other environments. We find that the GC mass-metallicity relation already sets in at present-day masses of a few 10^5 solar masses and is well established in the luminosity range of massive MW clusters like omega Centauri. We compare the mass-metallicity relation with predictions from the star cluster self-enrichment model by Bailin & Harris (2009). For this we include effects of dynamical and stellar evolution and a physically well motivated primordial mass-radius scaling. The self-enrichment model reproduces the observed relations well for average primordial half-light radii r_h ~ 1-1.5 pc, star formation efficiencies f_* ~ 0.3-0.4, and pre-enrichment levels of [Fe/H] ~ -1.7 dex. Within the self-enrichment scenario, the observed blue tilt implies a correlation between GC mass and width of the stellar metallicity distribution. We find that this implied correlation matches the trend of width with GC mass measured in Galactic GCs, including extreme cases like omega Cen and M54. We conclude that 1. A primordial star cluster mass-radius relation provides a significant improvement to the self-enrichment model fits. 2. Broadenend metallicity distributions as found in some massive MW globular clusters may have arisen naturally from self-enrichment processes, without the need of a dwarf galaxy progenitor.
    Preview · Article · Jun 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics
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    ABSTRACT: (Abridged) Atmospheric dispersion and field differential refraction impose severe constraints on widefield MOS observations. Flux reduction and spectral distortions must be minimised by a careful planning of the observations -- which is especially true for instruments that use slits instead of fibres. This is the case of VIMOS at the VLT, where MOS observations have been restricted, since the start of operations, to a narrow two-hour range from the meridian to minimise slit losses. We revisit in detail the impact of atmospheric effects on the quality of VIMOS-MOS spectra. We model slit losses across the entire VIMOS FOV as a function of target declination. We explore two different slit orientations at the meridian: along the parallactic angle (North-South), and perpendicular to it (East-West). We show that, for fields culminating at zenith distances larger than 20 deg, slit losses are minimised with slits oriented along the parallactic angle at the meridian. The two-hour angle rule holds for these observations using N-S orientations. Conversely, for fields with zenith angles smaller than 20 deg at culmination, losses are minimised with slits oriented perpendicular to the parallactic angle at the meridian. MOS observations can be effectively extended to plus/minus three hours from the meridian in these cases. In general, night-long observations of a single field will benefit from using the E-W orientation. All-sky or service mode observations, however, require a more elaborate planning that depends on the target declination, and the hour angle of the observations. We establish general rules for the alignment of slits in MOS observations that will increase target observability, enhance the efficiency of operations, and speed up the completion of programmes -- a particularly relevant aspect for the forthcoming spectroscopic public surveys with VIMOS.
    Preview · Article · Feb 2014 · Astronomy and Astrophysics

Publication Stats

3k Citations
498.77 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2007-2015
    • European Southern Observatory
      Arching, Bavaria, Germany
    • University of Central Lancashire
      Preston, England, United Kingdom
    • University of Queensland
      • School of Mathematics and Physics
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
  • 1999-2015
    • Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
      • • Instituto de Astrofísica
      • • Departamento de Anatomía
      CiudadSantiago, Santiago Metropolitan, Chile
  • 2009
    • Universität Heidelberg
      • Centre for Astronomy (ZAH)
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
  • 1996-2009
    • University of Bonn
      • • Argelander-Institute of Astronomy
      • • Institute of Anatomy
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2003
    • University of Melbourne
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia