Revisiting the relation between the number of globular clusters and galaxy mass for low-mass galaxies

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11 Scopus citations


Using a new method to estimate total galaxy mass (MT) and two samples of low-luminosity galaxies containing measurements of the number of globular clusters (GCs) per galaxy (NGC), we revisit the NGC-MT relation using a total of 203 galaxies, 157 of which have MT ≤ 1010 M⊙. We find that the relation is nearly linear, NGC α MT0.92 ± 0.08 down to at least MT ∼108.75 M⊙. Because the relationship extends to galaxies that average less than one GC per galaxy and to a mass range in which mergers are relatively rare, the relationship cannot be solely an emergent property of hierarchical galaxy formation. The character of the radial GC distribution in low-mass galaxies, and the lack of mergers at these galaxy masses, also appears to challenge models in which the GCs form in central, dissipatively concentrated high-density, high-pressure regions and are then scattered to large radius. The slight difference between the fitted power-law exponent and a value of one leaves room for a shallow MT-dependent variation in the mean mass per GC that would allow the relation between total mass in GCs and MT to be linear.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2609-2614
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022


  • galaxies: formation
  • galaxies: star clusters: general
  • globular clusters: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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