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The difference in metallicity distribution functions of halo stars and globular clusters as a function of galaxy type: A tracer of globular cluster formation and evolution

Lamers, HJGLM and Kruijssen, JMD and Bastian, N and Rejkuba, M and Hilker, M and Kissler-Patig, M The difference in metallicity distribution functions of halo stars and globular clusters as a function of galaxy type: A tracer of globular cluster formation and evolution. Astronomy and Astrophysics. ISSN 0004-6361 (Accepted)

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Abstract

Observations of globular clusters (GCs) and field stars in the halos of the giant elliptical galaxy Cen A and the spiral galaxy M31 show a large range of cluster-to-star number ratios ('specific frequencies'). The cluster-to-star ratio decreases with increasing metallicity by a factor of 100-1000, at all galactocentric radii and with a slope that does not seem to depend on radius. In dwarf galaxies, the GCs are also more metal-poor than the field stars on average. These observations indicate a strong dependence of either the cluster formation efficiency or the cluster destruction rate on metallicity and environment. We aim to explain these trends by considering various effects that may influence the observed cluster-to-star ratio as a function of metallicity, environment and cosmological history. We show that both the cluster formation efficiency and the maximum cluster mass increase with metallicity, so they cannot explain the observed trend. Destruction of GCs by tidal stripping and dynamical friction destroy clusters over too small a range of galactocentric radii. We show that cluster destruction by tidal shocks from giant molecular clouds in the high-density formation environments of GCs becomes increasingly efficient towards high galaxy masses and, hence, towards high metallicities. The predicted cluster-to-star ratio decreases by a factor 100-1000 towards high metallicities and should only weakly depend on galactocentric radius due to orbital mixing during hierarchical galaxy merging, consistent with the observations. The observed, strong dependence of the cluster-to-star ratio on metallicity and the independence of its slope on galactocentric radius can be explained by cluster destruction and hierarchical galaxy growth. As a result, we find that the metallicity-dependence of the cluster-to-star ratio does not reflect a GC formation efficiency, but a survival fraction. (Abridged)

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: astro-ph.GA; astro-ph.GA
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy
Q Science > QC Physics
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Astrophysics Research Institute
Publisher: EDP Sciences
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2017 10:58
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2017 10:58
DOI or Identification number: 10.1051/0004-6361/201731062
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/6951

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