Volume 568, August 2014
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Published online||26 August 2014|
Probing the nuclear star cluster of galaxies with extremely large telescopes
1 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy
2 INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Bologna, Via Ranzani 1, 40127 Bologna, Italy
3 INAF, Istituto di Astrofisica Spaziale e Fisica Cosmica, Via Bassini 15, 20133 Milano, Italy
Received: 26 May 2014
Accepted: 23 June 2014
The unprecedented sensitivity and spatial resolution of next-generation, ground-based, extremely large telescopes (ELTs) will open a completely new window on the study of resolved stellar populations. In this paper we study the feasibility of the analysis of nuclear star cluster (NSC) stellar populations with ELTs. To date, NSC stellar population studies are based on the properties of their integrated light. NSCs are in fact observed as unresolved sources even with the HST. We explore the possibility of obtaining direct estimates of the age of NSC stellar populations from the photometry of main-sequence turn-off stars. We simulated ELT observations of NSCs at different distances and with different stellar populations. Photometric measurements on each simulated image were analysed in detail and results about photometric accuracy and completeness are reported here. We found that the main-sequence turn-off is detectable – and therefore the age of stellar populations can be directly estimated – up to 2 Mpc for old, up to 3 Mpc for intermediate-age and up to 4−5 Mpc for young stellar populations. We found that for this particular science case, the performances of TMT and E-ELT are of comparable quality.
Key words: instrumentation: adaptive optics / instrumentation: high angular resolution / galaxies: clusters: general / infrared: stars / methods: observational
© ESO, 2014
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