IAU Symposium Abstract S186-074T


Evolution of Globular Star Clusters


B. C. Whitmore1
1 Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA < whitmore@stsci.edu >



Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope have recently shown that merging galaxies can produce a myriad of young star clusters, some of which may become globular clusters. In fact, the brightest of these ``super star clusters'' have the luminosities, colors, sizes, and spectra that we would expect for globular clusters with ages in the range 5 to 500 Myr. This discovery is important for three basic reasons. 1) It may allow us to study the formation and evolution of globular star clusters in the local universe rather than trying to ascertain how they formed 10 - 15 billion years ago. 2) It may answer van den Bergh's objection against ellipticals being formed through disk mergers, based mainly on the fact that spirals have fewer globular clusters per unit luminosity than ellipticals do. 3) It may provide a tool for age dating merger remnants and help establish whether a convincing evolutionary sequence can be established between ongoing mergers, suspected merger remnants, and normal ellipticals galaxies.