Explaining the color distributions of globular cluster systems in elliptical galaxies

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122 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The colors of globular clusters in most large elliptical galaxies are bimodal. This is generally taken as evidence for the presence of two cluster subpopulations that have different geneses. However, here we find that, because of the nonlinear nature of the metallicity-to-color transformation, a coeval group of old clusters with a unimodal metallicity spread can exhibit color bimodality. The models of cluster colors indicate that horizontal-branch stars are the main drivers behind the empirical nonlinearity. We show that the scenario gives simple and cohesive explanations for all the key observations and could simplify theories of elliptical galaxy formation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1132
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume311
Issue number5764
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Feb 24

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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