Published in Reviews in Modern Astronomy 13 : New Astrophysical Horizons, edited by Reinhard E. Schielicke. Hamburg, Germany : Astronomische Gesellschaft, 2000., p.13
astro-ph/0002070v2

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EXTRAGALACTIC GLOBULAR CLUSTER SYSTEMS : A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON GALAXY FORMATION AND EVOLUTION


Markus Kissler-Patig
European Southern Observatory
Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany


Abstract: We present an overview of observational progress in the study of extragalactic globular cluster systems. Globular clusters turn out to be excellent tracers not only for the star-formation histories in galaxies, but also for kinematics at large galactocentric radii. Their properties can be used to efficiently constrain galaxy formation and evolution. After a brief introduction of the current methods and futures perspectives, we summarize the knowledge gained in various areas of galaxy research through the study of globular clusters. In particular, we address the star-formation histories of early-type galaxies; globular cluster population in late-type galaxies and their link to early-type galaxies; star and cluster formation during mergers and violent interactions; and the kinematics at large radii in early-type galaxies. The different points are reviewed within the context of galaxy formation and evolution.

Finally, we revisit the globular cluster luminosity function as a distance indicator. Despite its low popularity in the literature, we demonstrate that it ranks among one of the most precise distance indicators to early-type galaxies, provided that it is applied properly.


Table of Contents

PREAMBLE

MOTIVATION
Why study globular cluster systems?
Advantages of using globular clusters

Current and future observational methods
Optical photometry
Near-infrared photometry
Multi-object spectroscopy

GLOBULAR CLUSTERS IN VARIOUS GALAXY TYPES, AND WHAT WE LEARNED FROM THEM
Globular clusters in early-type galaxies
Globular clusters in late-type galaxies
Star clusters in mergers and violent interactions

GLOBULAR CLUSTER SUB-POPULATIONS AND THEIR ORIGIN
The different scenarios for sub-populations
Pros and cons of the scenarios

KINEMATICS OF GLOBULAR CLUSTERS
Globular cluster system formation
Galaxy dynamics

GLOBULAR CLUSTERS AS DISTANCE INDICATORS
The globular cluster luminosity function
General problems
The classical way: using all globular clusters of a system
The alternative way: using metal-poor globular clusters only
A few examples, comparisons, and the value of H0 from the GCLF method
The Future of the method

CONCLUSIONS

REFERENCES

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