The SLUGGS survey: combining stellar and globular cluster metallicities in the outer regions of early-type galaxies

Nicola Pastorello, Duncan A. Forbes, Christopher Usher, Jean P. Brodie, Aaron J. Romanowsky, Jay Strader, Lee R. Spitler, Adebusola B. Alabi, Caroline Foster, Zachary G. Jennings, Sreeja S. Kartha, Vincenzo Pota

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


The outer halo regions of early-type galaxies carry key information about their past accretion history. However, spectroscopically probing the stellar component at such galactocentric radii is still challenging. Using the DEep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph on the Keck, we have been able to measure the metallicities of the stellar and globular cluster components in 12 early-type galaxies out to more than 10Re. We find similar metallicity gradients for the metal-poor and metal-rich globular cluster subpopulations, suggesting a common formation process for the two subpopulations. This is in conflict with most current theoretical predictions, where the metal-poor globular clusters are thought to be purely accreted and metal-rich globular clusters mostly formed in situ. Moreover, we find that the globular cluster metallicity gradients show a trend with galaxy mass, being steeper in lower mass galaxies than in higher mass galaxies. This is similar to what we find for the outermost galaxy stars and suggests a more active accretion history, with a larger role played by major mergers, in the most massive galaxies. This conclusion is qualitatively consistent with expectations from two-phase galaxy assembly models. Finally, we find that the small difference in metallicity between galaxy stars and metal-rich globular clusters at 1Re may correlate with galaxy mass. The origin of this difference is not currently clear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2625-2639
Number of pages15
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2015 The Authors. First published in Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 451(3), 2625-2639. The original publication is available at, published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • galaxies: abundances
  • galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • galaxies: evolution
  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • galaxies: stellar content


Dive into the research topics of 'The SLUGGS survey: combining stellar and globular cluster metallicities in the outer regions of early-type galaxies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this