We present Hubble Space Telescope photometry in the optical (F475X) and near-infrared (F110W) bands of the globular cluster (GC) systems of the inner halos of a sample of 15 massive elliptical galaxies. The targets are selected from the volume-limited MASSIVE survey, and chosen to sample a range of environments from sparsely populated groups to the brightest cluster galaxies in dense clusters. We also present a quantitative model of the relation between (F475X − F110W) color and cluster metallicity [M/H], using simulated GCs. Because much of the GC population in such galaxies is built up through accretion, the metallicity distribution of the GC systems might be expected to vary with galaxy environment. The photometry is used to create a completeness-corrected metallicity distribution for each galaxy in the sample, and to fit a double Gaussian curve to each histogram in order to model the two standard red and blue subpopulations. Finally, the properties of the GC metallicity distribution are correlated against galaxy environment. We find that almost no GCS properties and host galaxy environmental properties are correlated, with the exception of a weak but consistent correlation between blue fraction and nth-nearest-neighbor surface density. The results suggest that the systemic properties of the GC systems, at least in the inner to midhalo regions, are influenced more strongly by the local environment at early times, rather than by the environmental properties we see today.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science