The kinematics and metallicity of the M31 globular cluster system

K. M. Perrett*, T. J. Bridges, D. A. Hanes, M. J. Irwin, J. P. Brodie, D. Carter, J. P. Huchra, F. G. Watson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)


With the ultimate aim of distinguishing between various models describing the formation of galaxy halos (e.g., radial or multiphase collapse and random mergers), we have completed a spectroscopic study of the globular cluster system of M31. We present the results of deep intermediate-resolution fiber-optic spectroscopy of several hundred of the M31 globular clusters using the Wide Field Fibre Optic Spectrograph at the William Herschel Telescope in La Palma, Canary Islands. These observations have yielded precise radial velocities (±12 km s-1) and metallicities (±0.26 dex) for over 200 members of the M31 globular cluster population out to a radius of 1.°5 from the galaxy center. Many of these clusters have no previous published radial velocity or [Fe/H] estimates, and the remainder typically represent significant improvements over earlier determinations. We present analyses of the spatial, kinematic, and metal abundance properties of the M31 globular clusters. We find that the abundance distribution of the cluster system is consistent with a bimodal distribution with peaks at [Fe/H] ∼ -1. 4 and -0.5. The metal-rich clusters demonstrate a centrally concentrated spatial distribution with a high rotation amplitude, although this population does not appear significantly flattened and is consistent with a bulge population. The metal-poor clusters tend to be less spatially concentrated and are also found to have a strong rotation signature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2490-2510
Number of pages21
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5 1757
Publication statusPublished - May 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Galaxies: individual (M31)
  • Galaxies: stellar content
  • Galaxy: formation
  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • Techniques: spectroscopic


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