IAU Symposium Abstract S186-062P


The Origin of High Specific Frequency Globular Cluster Systems


Myung Gyoon Lee1 and Doug Geisler2
1Seoul National University, Department of Astronomy, Korea $<mglee@astrog.snu.ac.kr>$
2National Optical Astronomical Observatories, USA $<dgeisler@noao.edu>$



There are known to be several giant elliptical galaxies with high specific frequencies of globular clusters, which possess about three or more times the normal number of globular clusters for their luminosity. Two competing scenarios have been suggested to explain the origin of the high specific frequency globular cluster systems - the empirical result that such systems are only found in cD galaxies and the recent suggestion by West et al. (1995, ApJ, 453, L77) that such systems are instead due to the presence of a large number of intracluster globular clusters. We have performed a definitive test of the idea of West et al. by investigating the globular cluster system in NGC 4696. NGC 4696 is a giant elliptical, but not a cD galaxy, located at the dynamical center of the rich Centaurus cluster. The West et al. scenario predicts about 6 times more globular clusters than normal for its luminosity. We have found that the specific frequency of the globular clusters in NGC 4696 is not as high as expected by West et al.'s theory, but instead similar to other normal elliptical galaxies. This result rules against the intracluster origin for the high specific frequency globular cluster systems.