Globular clusters in the Local Group as probes of galaxy assembly
MetadataShow full item record
Understanding the formation and evolution of galaxies is one of the most active areas of research in astrophysics. Hierarchical merging of proto-galactic fragments to build more massive galaxies is the current preferred model. A key prediction of this theory is that haloes of nearby galaxies should contain remnants of this assembly process in the form of tidal debris. Found in all but the smallest of dwarf galaxies, globular clusters (GC) are excellent probes of galaxy haloes. Having high luminosities, they are favourable targets in the outer regions of galaxies where the associated stellar surface brightness is low. GCs are thought to be amongst the oldest stellar systems in the Universe, and are likely born in the most significant phases of galaxy formation. Their metallicities, ages, spatial distributions and kinematics can be used to constrain the assembly history of their host galaxy. In this thesis, I explore the photometric and kinematic properties of several GC systems in our cosmological backyard, the Local Group of galaxies. The work is based on a major spectroscopic campaign, follow-up to the photometric Pan- Andromeda Archaeological Survey (PAndAS), as well as additional optical and near-IR data sets. Radial velocities are obtained for 78 GCs in the halo ofM31, 63 of which had no previous spectroscopic information. The GCs have projected radii between ∼ 20 and 140 kpc, thus sampling the true outer halo of this galaxy. In addition, GCs in the dwarf galaxies NGC 147, NGC 185 and NGC 6822 are also spectroscopically observed. By conducting a detailed kinematic analysis, I find that GCs in the outer halo of M31 exhibit coherent rotation around the minor optical axis, in the same direction as their more centrally located counterparts, but with a smaller amplitude of 86 ± 17 km s−1. There is also evidence that the velocity dispersion of the outer halo GC system decreases as a function of projected radius from theM31 centre, and this relation can be well described by a power lawof index ≈ −0.5. I detect and discuss various velocity correlations amongst GCs that lie on stellar streams in the M31 halo. Simple Monte Carlo tests show that such configurations are unlikely to form by chance, implying that significant fraction of the GCs in the M31 halo have been accreted alongside their parent dwarf galaxies. I also estimate the dynamical mass of M31 within 200 kpc to be (1.2 − 1.6) ± 0.2 × 1012 M⊙. I also characterize the GC systems of three dwarf galaxies in the Local Group: the dwarf elliptical satellites of M31, NGC 147 and NGC 185, and the isolated dwarf irregular NGC 6822. Using uniform optical and near-IR photometry, I constrain the ages and metallicities of their constituent GCs. The metallicities of the GCs around NGC 147 and NGC 185 are found to be metal-poor ([Fe/H]. −1.25 dex), while their ages are more difficult to constrain. The GCs hosted by NGC 6822 are found to be old (>9 Gyr) and to have a spread of metallicities (−1.6 . [Fe/H] . −0.4). I find close similarity between the mean optical (V − I)0 colours of the GCs hosted by these three dwarf galaxies to those located in the M31 outer halo, consistent with the idea that dwarf galaxies akin to them might have contributed toward the assembly of the M31 outer halo GC population. Analysing their kinematics, I find no evidence for systemic rotation in either of these three GC systems. Finally, I use the available GC kinematic data to calculate the dynamical masses of NGC 147, NGC 185 and NGC 6822.