The SLUGGS survey: Wide field imaging of the globular cluster system of NGC 4278

Christopher Usher*, Duncan A. Forbes, Lee R. Spitler, Jean P. Brodie, Aaron J. Romanowsky, Jay Strader, Kristin A. Woodley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


We use multipointing Hubble Space Telescope Advanced Camera for Surveys and wide field Subaru Suprime-Cam imaging to study the globular cluster system of the L* elliptical galaxy NGC 4278. We have also obtained a handful of new globular cluster spectra with the Keck Deep Imaging Multi-Object Spectrograph. We determine the globular cluster surface density profile and use it to calculate the total number of globular clusters, finding the system to be slightly more populous than average for galaxies of its luminosity. We find clear evidence for bimodality in the globular cluster colour distribution and for a colour-magnitude relation in the blue subpopulation (a 'blue tilt'). We also find negative radial colour gradients in both colour subpopulations of equal strength which are similar in strength to those reported in other galaxies. The sizes of NGC 4278's globular clusters decrease with redder colours and increase with galactocentric radius. The ratio of the sizes of blue to red globular clusters is independent of galactocentric radius demonstrating that internal effects are responsible for the size difference with colour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1172-1190
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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