AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 91 Star Clusters Large and Small
Oral, Tuesday, 10:00-11:30am, January 10, 2006, Balcony A

Previous   |   Session 91   |   Next  |   Author Index   |   Block Schedule

[91.05] Extremely \alpha-Enriched Globular Clusters in Early-Type Galaxies

T.H. Puzia (STScI), M. Kissler-Patig (ESO), P. Goudfrooij (STScI)

We compare [\alpha/Fe], metallicity, and age distributions of globular clusters in elliptical, lenticular, and spiral galaxies, which we derive from Lick line index measurements. We find a large number of globular clusters in elliptical galaxies that reach significantly higher [\alpha/Fe] values ([\alpha/Fe]~>0.5) than clusters in lenticular and spiral galaxies. Most of these highly \alpha-enriched globular clusters are old (t>8 Gyr) and exhibit relatively high metallicities up to solar values. A comparison with supernova yield models suggests that the progenitor gas clouds of these globular clusters were predominantly enriched by massive stars (\ga20 M\odot) with little contribution from lower-mass stars. The measured [\alpha/Fe] ratios are also consistent with yields of very massive pair-instability supernovae (~30-190 M\odot). This implies that the chemical enrichment of the progenitor gas was completed on extremely short timescales of the order of a few Myr. Given the lower [\alpha/Fe] ratios of the diffuse stellar population in early-type galaxies, our results suggest that the extremely \alpha-enhanced globular clusters are members of the the very first generation of star clusters formed, and that their formation epochs likely predate the formation of the majority of stars in giant early-type galaxies.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: tpuzia@stsci.edu

Previous   |   Session 91   |   Next

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.