Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published March 1992 | Published
Journal Article Open

Planetary Camera observations of NGC 1275 - Discovery of a central population of compact massive blue star clusters


We have discovered a population of bright blue pointlike sources within 5 kpc of the nucleus of NGC 1275 using HST Planetary Camera observations. The typical object has M_v~- 12 to - 14 (H_0 = 75 km s^(-1) Mpc^(-1); the brightest has M_v~-16. They are all blue, with V- R≾0.3. The color distribution and lack of excess Ha emission are consistent with nearly all being continuum sources. Many of the sources are unresolved even with the HST and consequently have sizes of ≾ 15 pc. We suggest that these are young star clusters that will evolve to look like globular clusters. They are bluer than any clusters seen in the Milky Way or M87, and brighter than the blue clusters seen in the LMC. We derive ages of several hundred million years or less and corresponding masses of 10^5-10^8 M_☉. The existence of these young clusters may be connected with a current or previous interaction with another galaxy, with the cooling flow in NGC 1275, or with some combination. Structure is detected in the underlying galaxy light that is suggestive of a merge between NGC 1275 and a second galaxy some 10^8 yr ago. If this merger triggered star formation, it would naturally account for the observed uniformity of cluster colors. Steady-state star formation in the x-ray cooling flow would imply a wider range in cluster age and color than is seen, unless the clusters disrupt. An interaction with the projected high-velocity, infalling system cannot explain the observations because this system has not yet reached the center of NGC 1275 where the clusters are concentrated, and because it has a total interaction time that is far too short for either the observed cluster lifetimes or the dynamical lifetime of structure in the galaxy. If the presence of recently formed protoglobulars around NGC 1275 is related to a previous merger, this would remove an important objection to the merger hypothesis for elliptical galaxy origins, provided that adequate gas is available in the merger for their formation.

Additional Information

© 1991 American Astronomical Society. Provided by the NASA Astrophysics Data System. Received 14 October 1991. Based on observations with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, obtained at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is operated by AURA, Inc., under NASA Contract No. NAS 5-26555. This research was conducted by the WFPC Investigation Definition Team, supported in part by NASA Grant No. NAS5-1661.

Attached Files

Published - 1992AJ____103__691H.pdf


Files (3.4 MB)
Name Size Download all
3.4 MB Preview Download

Additional details

August 20, 2023
October 18, 2023