Globular Cluster Populations: Signatures and Implications
de Grijs, R.
The formation of populous secondary star cluster systems is a widespread phenomenon in mergers of gas-rich galaxies. Many, if not most, of those clusters are massive and compact enough to be young globular clusters (GCs). GC systems in most E/S0 galaxies feature bimodal color distributions with a fairly universal blue peak similar to the blue peak of halo GCs in the Milky Way (MW) and M31, and a variable red peak. Due to the well-known age – metallicity degeneracy of optical broad-band colors, the metallicities and ages, and, hence, the origin of the red peak GCs are not yet known. We use evolutionary synthesis models for GC systems of various metallicities to study the time evolution of their luminosity functions (LFs) in various bands U,..., K and of their color distributions. By comparison with the universal blue peak GC population we investigate for which combinations of age and metallicity a second GC population can or cannot be identified in typical observations of GC color distributions and we discuss implications for the GC LF as a distance indicator.