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G. Trancho (U. La Laguna, Tenerife; Gemini Observatory), B. W. Miller (Gemini Observatory), N. Bastian (Univ. College London), F. Schweizer (OCIW)
There is increasing evidence that galaxy groups and clusters contain stellar populations and globular clusters that are not bound to any particular galaxy. It is thought that most of this material is old and has been stripped from galaxies as they pass through the center of the galaxy cluster. Observations suggest that it may also be possible for young stars and star clusters formed during interactions to enter the intracluster medium. We present preliminary results of Gemini multi-object spectroscopy of three young star clusters in the western tidal tail of NGC~3256. The clusters' metallicities inferred from Lick indices are solar or super-solar. Their ages are between 100 and 400 Myr, which is less than the estimated time since the first pericenter passage of the merging galaxies (English et al. 2003). Therefore, it is likely that these clusters formed in the tidal tails. Their velocities suggest that they may have formed closer to the main body of the remnant than they are today. If the loosely bound tail material gets stripped during future interactions in the group, these three clusters may well become part of the intragroup medium.
Supported by the Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., on behalf of the international Gemini partnership of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.