Spectroscopy on the globular cluster (GC) system of NGC 5128 revealed bimodality in absorption-line index distributions of its old GCs. GC division is a widely observed and studied phenomenon whose interpretation has depicted host galaxy formation and evolution such that it harbors two distinct metallicity groups. Such a conventional view of GC bimodality has mainly been based on photometry. The recent GC photometric data, however, presented an alternative perspective in which the nonlinear metallicity-to-color transformation is responsible for color bimodality of GC systems. Here we apply the same line of analysis to the spectral indices and examine the absorption-line index versus metallicity relations for the NGC 5128 GC system. NGC 5128 GCs display nonlinearity in the metallicity-index planes, most prominently for the Balmer lines and by a non-negligible degree for the metallicity-sensitive magnesium line. We demonstrate that the observed spectroscopic division of NGC 5128 GCs can be caused by the nonlinear nature of the metallicity-to-index conversions and thus one does not need to resort to two separate GC subgroups. Our analysis incorporating this nonlinearity provides a new perspective on the structure of NGC 5128's GC system, and a further piece to the global picture of the formation of GC systems and their host galaxies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science