The Formation of Globular Clusters in Galaxy Mergers

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Session 75 -- Interacting Galaxies and Starbursts
Display presentation, Wednesday, 11, 1995, 9:20am - 6:30pm

[75.06] The Formation of Globular Clusters in Galaxy Mergers

S. Zepf (University of California, Berkeley), K. Ashman (University of Kansas), D. Carter (Royal Greenwich Observatory), J. English (Queen's University), K. Freeman (Mt. Stromlo Observatory), R. Sharples (University of Durham)

The existence of young globular clusters is expected in a merger model for the formation of elliptical galaxies in order to explain the greater number of globular clusters around ellipticals relative to spirals. It also has been proposed that the physical conditions in galaxy mergers are favorable for globular cluster formation. Young globular clusters are expected to be recognizable in high resolution imaging as compact, bright blue objects. The hypothesis that globular clusters form in mergers has been supported by the discovery of such objects in pre-refurbishment HST images of several interacting or merging galaxies. We present new HST imaging and ground-based spectroscopy aimed at addressing several critical questions regarding the formation of globular clusters in galaxy mergers. Firstly, we present the results of a search for candidate young globular clusters in the galaxy merger NGC 3256 using recently obtained WFPC2 images. In particular, we discuss constraints on the efficiency of globular cluster formation and the form of the globular cluster luminosity function. Secondly, we present optical spectra of the brightest candidate young globular cluster in NGC 1275 which confirm its identification as a young cluster. We discuss how these spectra constrain the age and possibly the metallicity of this object.

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