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Beyond Earthly Skies

The Present Distribution of Globular Clusters

1 Jul 2016, 22:00 UTC
The Present Distribution of Globular Clusters
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Figure 1: Artist’s impression of a planet in a globular cluster.Galaxies with larger luminosities tend to host big populations of globular clusters. At the same time, galaxies with larger luminosities are also less common than galaxies with lower luminosities. Dwarf galaxies are low luminosity galaxies that individually have very few globular clusters, but they are very common in the universe. In contrast, giant elliptical galaxies are very luminous galaxies with huge populations of globular clusters, but these galaxies are extremely rare.It is worth asking how globular clusters are distributed amongst galaxies and what kind of galaxies account for most of the globular clusters in the universe. A plot of the distribution of globular clusters show that half the population of blue (metal-poor) globular clusters are found in galaxies with less than ~13 billion times the Sun's luminosity, while half the population of red (metal-rich) globular clusters are found in galaxies with less than ~28 billion times the luminosity of the Sun. Basically, blue (metal-poor) globular clusters tend to reside around lower mass galaxies. A major contributing factor for this is that there are almost no red (metal-rich) globular clusters present around dwarf galaxies.Figure 2: The fraction of all globular clusters ...

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