Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 385(1):361-380, 12, 2008. Paper Website abstract bibtex
In an effort to probe the globular cluster (GC) system of an isolated elliptical galaxy, a comprehensive analysis of the NGC 821 GC system was performed. New imaging from the WIYN Mini-Mosaic imager, supplemented with Hubbl e Space Telescope (HST) WFPC2 images reveals a GC system similar to those found in counterpart ellipticals located in high-density environments. To put these results into the context of galaxy formation, a robustly-determined census of GC systems is presented and analysed for galaxies spanning a wide range of masses (> M_star), morphologies and environments. Results from this meta-study: (1) confirm previous findings that the number of GCs normalized by host galaxy stellar mass increases with host stellar mass. Spiral galaxies in the sample show smaller relative GC numbers than those of massive ellipticals, suggesting the GC systems of massive ellipticals were not formed from major spiral-spiral mergers; (2) indicate that GC system numbers per unit galaxy baryon mass increases with host baryon mass and that GC formation efficiency may not be universal as previously thought; (3) suggest previously reported trends with environment may be incorrect due to sample bias or the use of galaxy stellar masses to normalize GC numbers. Thus claims for environmentally dependent GC formation efficiencies should be revisited; (4) in combination with weak-lensing halo mass estimates, suggest that GCs formed in direct proportion to the halo mass; (5) are consistent with theoretical predictions whereby the local epoch of re-ionization did not vary significantly with environment or host galaxy type.