Globular clusters as probes of galaxy formation
Observations and analysis of globular cluster systems associated with three galaxy types are presented. Spectroscopy of globular cluster (GC) candidates in the Sculptor spirals NGC 253 and NGC 55 has identified 15 GCs in these galaxies. This spectroscopic sample, combined with plate scans, indicates total GC populations consistent with that expected for their luminosity and morphological type. From these data, we define new GC samples for spectroscopy. Radial velocities of 87 GCs in the Virgo elliptical NGC 4472 have been obtained, yielding data for 144 GCs when combined with previous studies. We find the blue GCs have significantly higher velocity dispersion than the red GCs, with little rotation in either population. The GCs dispersion profile declines slowly, yielding mass profiles consistent with X-ray data. We find a steeply rising M/L ratio, indicative of a massive dark halo surrounding this galaxy. From line-strengths of the GCs, we derive ages and metallicities for the GCs using simple stellar population (SSP) models. We find that the GCs are old and coeval and the bimodality seen in then- colours reflects metallicity rather than age differences. The GCs exhibit solar abundance ratios and both subpopulations show evidence for radial metallicity gradients. We have obtained high S/N spectra for 64 star clusters in the Large Magellanic Cloud. We measure their Lick indices to test the age and metallicity calibration of SSP models by comparison with literature values. We find our metallicities are consistent, although the values from our integrated spectra are slightly higher. The agreement of the ages for the old GCs is good, but is somewhat poorer for the youngest clusters. We obtain an age-metallicity relation for the clusters consistent with the galaxy's field stars. We show first results of a project to investigate the age and metallicity distributions of globular cluster systems using semi-analytic models of galaxy formation.