HST/ACS colour–magnitude diagrams of M 31 globular clustersS. Perina1, 2, L. Federici2, M. Bellazzini2, C. Cacciari2, F. Fusi Pecci2, and S. Galleti2
1 Università di Bologna, Dipartimento di Astronomia via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
2 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
Received 27 May 2009 / Accepted 23 September 2009
Aims. With the aim of increasing the sample of M 31 clusters for which a colour–magnitude diagram is available, we searched the HST archive for ACS images containing objects included in the Revised Bologna Catalogue of M 31 globular clusters (RBC Version 3.5 available at: http://www.bo.astro.it/M31).
Methods. Sixty-three such objects were found. We used the ACS images to confirm or revise their classification and were able to obtain useful CMDs for 11 old globular clusters and 6 luminous young clusters. We obtained simultaneous estimates of the distance, reddening, and metallicity of old clusters by comparing their observed field-decontaminated CMDs with a grid of template clusters of the Milky Way. We estimated the age of the young clusters by fitting with theoretical isochrones.
Results. For the old clusters, we found metallicities in the range -0.4 [Fe/H] -1.9. The individual estimates generally agree with existing spectroscopic estimates. At least four of them display a clear blue horizontal branch, indicating ages 10 Gyr. All six candidate young clusters are found to have ages <1 Gyr. The photometry of the clusters is made publicly available through a dedicated web page.
Conclusions. With the present work the total number of M 31 GCs with reliable optical CMD increases from 35 to 44 for the old clusters, and from 7 to 11 for the young ones. The old clusters show similar characteristics to those of the MW. We discuss the case of the cluster B407, with a metallicity [Fe/H] -0.6 and located at a large projected distance from the centre of M 31 (Rp = 19.8 kpc) and from the major axis of the galaxy (Y = 11.3 kpc). Metal-rich globulars at large galactocentric distances are rare both in M 31 and in the Milky Way. B407, in addition, has a velocity in stark contrast with the rotation pattern shared by the bulk of M 31 clusters of similar metallicity. This, along with other empirical evidence, supports the hypothesis that the cluster (together with B403) is physically associated with a substructure in the halo of M 31 that has been interpreted as the relic of a merging event.
Key words: galaxies: individual: M 31 -- galaxies: star clusters -- catalog -- galaxies: Local Group
© ESO 2009