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Physics  2014 

Globular Cluster Formation in the Virgo Cluster

DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu1057

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Metal poor globular clusters (MPGCs) are a unique probe of the early universe, in particular the reionization era. Systems of globular clusters in galaxy clusters are particularly interesting as it is in the progenitors of galaxy clusters that the earliest reionizing sources first formed. Although the exact physical origin of globular clusters is still debated, it is generally admitted that globular clusters form in early, rare dark matter peaks (Moore et al. 2006; Boley et al. 2009). We provide a fully numerical analysis of the Virgo cluster globular cluster system by identifying the present day globular cluster system with exactly such early, rare dark matter peaks. A popular hypothesis is that that the observed truncation of blue metal poor globular cluster formation is due to reionization (Spitler et al. 2012; Boley et al. 2009; Brodie & Strader 2006); adopting this view, constraining the formation epoch of MPGCs provides a complementary constraint on the epoch of reionization. By analyzing both the line of sight velocity dispersion and the surface density distribution of the present day distribution we are able to constrain the redshift and mass of the dark matter peaks. We find and quantify a dependence on the chosen line of sight of these quantities, whose strength varies with redshift, and coupled with star formation efficiency arguments find a best fitting formation mass and redshift of $\simeq 5 \times 10^8 \rm{M}_\odot$ and $z\simeq 9$. We predict $\simeq 300$ intracluster MPGCs in the Virgo cluster. Our results confirm the techniques pioneered by Moore et al. (2006) when applied to the the Virgo cluster and extend and refine the analytic results of Spitler et al. (2012) numerically.


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