Metal-poor nuclear star clusters in two dwarf galaxies near Centaurus A suggesting formation from the in-spiraling of globular clusters

Katja Fahrion, Oliver Müller, Marina Rejkuba, Michael Hilker, Mariya Lyubenova, Glenn Van De Ven, Iskren Y. Georgiev, Federico Lelli, Marcel S. Pawlowski, Helmut Jerjen

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    35 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Studies of nucleated dwarf galaxies can constrain the scenarios for the formation and evolution of nuclear star clusters (NSC) in low-mass galaxies and give us insights on the origin of ultra compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs). We report the discovery of a NSC in the dwarf galaxy KKs58 and investigate its properties together with those of another NSC in KK197. Both NSCs are hosted by dwarf elliptical galaxies of the Centaurus group. Combining ESO VLT MUSE data with photometry from VLT FORS2, CTIO Blanco DECam, and HST ACS, as well as high-resolution spectroscopy from VLT UVES, we analyse the photometric, kinematic and stellar population properties of the NSCs and their host galaxies. We confirm membership of the NSCs based on their radial velocities and location close to the galaxy centres. We also confirm the membership of two globular clusters (GCs) and detect oblate rotation in the main body of KK197. Based on high signal-to-noise spectra taken with MUSE of the NSCs of both KKs58 and KK197 we measure low metallicities, [Fe/H] = -1.75 ± 0.06 dex and [Fe/H] = -1.84 ± 0.05 dex, and stellar masses of 7.3 × 105 M° and 1.0 × 106 M°, respectively. Both NSCs are more metal-poor than their hosts that have metallicities of -1.35 ± 0.23 dex (KKs58) and -0.84 ± 0.12 dex (KK197). This can be interpreted as NSC formation via the in-spiral of GCs. The masses, sizes and metallicities of the two NSCs place them among other NSCs, but also among the known UCDs of the Centaurus group. This indicates that NSCs might constitute the progenitors of a part of the low-mass UCDs, although their properties are almost indistinguishable from typical GCs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberA53
    JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
    Volume634
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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