ACS photometry of extended, luminous globular clusters in the outskirts of M31

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

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12 pages, 3 figures, 1 table; accepted for publication in ApJ Letters

Scientific paper

10.1086/510670

A new population of extended, luminous globular clusters has recently been discovered in the outskirts of M31. These objects have luminosities typical of classical globular clusters, but much larger half-light radii. We report the first results from deep ACS imaging of four such clusters, one of which is a newly-discovered example lying at a projected distance of ~60 kpc from M31. Our F606W, F814W colour-magnitude diagrams extend ~3 magnitudes below the horizontal branch level, and clearly demonstrate, for the first time, that all four clusters are composed of >10 Gyr old, metal-poor stellar populations. No evidence for multiple populations is observed. From a comparison with Galactic globular cluster fiducials we estimate metallicities in the range -2.2 < [Fe/H] < -1.8. The observed horizontal branch morphologies show a clear second parameter effect between the clusters. Preliminary radial luminosity profiles suggest integrated magnitudes in the range -6.6 < M_V < -7.7, near the median value of the globular cluster luminosity function. Our results confirm that these four objects are bona fide old, metal-poor globular clusters, albeit with combined structures and luminosities unlike those observed for any other globular clusters in the Local Group or beyond.

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