The formation and evolution of bulges as traced by globular cluster systems

Duncan A. Forbes, Lee Spitler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Globular Clusters provide a unique method for tracing the formation and evolution of their host galaxies. As single stellar populations they are far easier to interpret than the multi-population complexity of galaxy field stars. The scaling properties of globular clusters provide important constraints on the hierarchical assembly history of galaxies. Here we briefly review recent progress using the Hubble Space Telescope for imaging and the Keck plus Gemini telescopes for spectroscopy. We argue that the red, or metal-rich, subpopulation of GCs is associated with the bulge/spheroid component of galaxies. As one of the oldest stellar systems available for study, we discuss how globular clusters can be used to constrain the formation of galaxy bulges, in particular the role of mergers vs secular evolution. We conclude that metal-rich GCs, and hence bulges, formed very early in the Universe with more recent mergers having a small effect at most.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-284
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS245
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: bulges
  • Galaxies: evolution
  • Globular clusters: general


Dive into the research topics of 'The formation and evolution of bulges as traced by globular cluster systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this