A Gaia-based Catalog of Candidate Stripped Nuclei and Luminous Globular Clusters in the Halo of Centaurus A

Karina T. Voggel, Anil C. Seth, David J. Sand, Allison Hughes, Jay Strader, Denija Crnojevic, Nelson Caldwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Tidally stripped galaxy nuclei and luminous globular clusters (GCs) are important tracers of the halos and assembly histories of nearby galaxies, but are difficult to reliably identify with typical ground-based imaging data. In this paper we present a new method to find these massive star clusters using Gaia DR2, focusing on the massive elliptical galaxy Centaurus A (Cen A). We show that stripped nuclei and GCs are partially resolved by Gaia at the distance of Cen A, showing characteristic astrometric and photometric signatures. We use this selection method to produce a list of 632 new candidate luminous clusters in the halo of Cen A out to a projected radius of 150 kpc. Adding in broadband photometry and visual examination improves the accuracy of our classification. In a spectroscopic pilot program we have confirmed five new luminous clusters, which includes the 7th and 10th most luminous GC in Cen A. Three of the newly discovered GCs are further away from Cen A than all previously known GCs. Several of these are compelling candidates for stripped nuclei. We show that our novel Gaia selection method retains at least partial utility out to distances of ∼25 Mpc and hence is a powerful tool for finding and studying star clusters in the sparse outskirts of galaxies in the local universe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number140
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume899
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 20 2020
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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