AAS Meeting #194 - Chicago, Illinois, May/June 1999
Session 40. Extragalactic Star Clusters: From Ancient Globulars to Young Star Clusters
Topical, Oral, Tuesday, June 1, 1999, 8:30-10:00am, 10:45am-12:30pm, 2:30-4:00pm, 4:15-6:00pm, Continental Ballroom A

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[40.16] Globular Cluster Metallicity Distribution Functions: Multimodality as a Consequence of Intrinsic Processes and Capture

P. Cote (CalTech), M.J. West (St. Mary's University), R.O. Marzke (OCIW), D. Minniti (LLNL)

There is now considerable observational evidence that the globular cluster systems of giant elliptical galaxies seldom show metallicity distrubution functions having a single peak; multi-modal distributions are the norm, not the exception. Similarly, the globular clusters associated with M31 and the Milky Way --- the two most thoroughly studied spiral galaxies --- also show unambiguous evidence for chemically-distinct globular cluster populations. I shall discuss what these multi-modal globular cluster metallicity distributions may be telling us about: (1) the process of galaxy formation and; (2) the extent to which the spheroids of spiral galaxies share a common origin with giant elliptical galaxies. As two illustrative examples, I will consider in detail the metallicity distribution functions of the Galactic globular cluster system, as well as that M49: the supergiant elliptical in the Virgo cluster.

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