AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 85 Star Clusters and Associations
Oral, Tuesday, January 11, 2005, 2:00-3:30pm, Royal Palm 1-3

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[85.01] Probing the Formation History of NGC 1399 Using its Globular Cluster System

A. Kundu (Michigan State University), D. Morton (University of Missouri-KC)

The globular cluster systems of galaxies are invaluable probes of the formation and evolutionary of their hosts. Each cluster has a specific age and metallicity, and hence the color and spectrum of an individual cluster is much easier to interpret than the complex populations seen in integrated light. Optical studies of the globular cluster systems of elliptical galaxies frequently reveal a bimodal color distribution indicating an episodic formation history. The addition of near infrared data breaks the inherent age metallicity degeneracy that plagues optical data.

We present the results of our optical and near-infrared analysis of the globular cluster system of NGC 1399, the cD galaxy in Fornax. Our study reveals two populations of clusters with distinct metallicities that were formed early in the history of the galaxy. There is evidence that a subset of the metal-rich clusters were formed more recently. We comment on the implications of our results on the formation history of this galaxy.

This research was supported by NASA LTSA grant NAG5-12975.

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© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.