The mean color of globular clusters (GCs) in early-type galaxies is in general bluer than the integrated color of halo field stars in host galaxies. Metal-rich GCs often appear more associated with field stars than metal-poor GCs, yet show bluer colors than their host galaxy light. Motivated by the discovery of multiple stellar populations in Milky Way GCs, we present a new scenario in which the presence of second-generation (SG) stars in GCs is responsible for the color discrepancy between metal-rich GCs and field stars. The model assumes that the SG populations have an enhanced helium abundance as evidenced by observations, and it gives a good explanation of the bluer optical colors of metal-rich GCs than field stars as well as strong Balmer lines and blue UV colors of metal-rich GCs. Ours may be complementary to the recent scenario suggesting the difference in stellar mass functions (MFs) as an origin for the GC-to-star color offset. A quantitative comparison is given between the SG and MF models.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science