Star clusters in M33: Updated UBVRI photometry, ages, metallicities, and masses

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22 Citations (Scopus)


The photometric characterization of M33 star clusters is far from complete. In this paper, we present homogeneous UBVRI photometry of 708 star clusters and cluster candidates in M33 based on archival images from the Local Group Galaxies Survey, which covers 0.8 deg2 along the galaxy's major axis. Our photometry includes 387, 563, 616, 580, and 478 objects in the UBVRI bands, respectively, of which 276, 405, 430, 457, and 363 do not have previously published UBVRI photometry. Our photometry is consistent with previous measurements (where available) in all filters. We adopted Sloan Digital Sky Survey ugriz photometry for complementary purposes, as well as Two Micron All Sky Survey near-infrared JHK photometry where available. We fitted the spectral-energy distributions of 671 star clusters and candidates to derive their ages, metallicities, and masses based on the updated PARSEC simple stellar populations synthesis models. The results of our χ2 minimization routines show that only 205 of the 671 clusters (31%) are older than 2 Gyr, which represents a much smaller fraction of the cluster population than that in M31 (56%), suggesting that M33 is dominated by young star clusters (<1 Gyr). We investigate the mass distributions of the star clusters - both open and globular clusters - in M33, M31, the Milky Way, and the Large Magellanic Cloud. Their mean values are log (M cl/M☉) = 4.25, 5.43, 2.72, and 4.18, respectively. The fraction of open to globular clusters is highest in the Milky Way and lowest in M31. Our comparisons of the cluster ages, masses, and metallicities show that our results are basically in agreement with previous studies (where objects in common are available); differences can be traced back to differences in the models adopted, the fitting methods used, and stochastic sampling effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Number of pages13
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal. Supplement Series
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • catalogs
  • galaxies: individual (M33)
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • globular clusters: general Online-only material: machine-readable tables


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