SCYON Abstract

Received on December 12 2002

Star Cluster Systems in Interacting and Starburst Galaxies: A Multicolour Approach

AuthorsRichard de Grijs
AffiliationInstitute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0HA, UK
To appear inthe proceedings of the workshop "Extragalactic Globular Cluster Systems", held in Garching bei München (Germany), 27/08 -- 30/08/2002, Springer-Verlag, Ed. M. Kissler-Patig


The large majority of extragalactic star cluster studies done to date have essentially used two or three-passband aperture photometry, combined with theoretical stellar population synthesis models, to obtain age estimates. The accuracy to which this can be done depends on the number of observations through different (broad-band) filters available as well as, crucially, on the actual wavelength range covered. I show, based on the examples of the nearby starburst galaxies NGC 3310 and M82, that the addition of, in particular, near-infrared passbands to a set of optical filters greatly enhances our ability to disentangle age, metallicity and extinction parameters for star clusters with ages younger than a few Gyr. In addition, for the intermediate-age star cluster system in the fossil starburst region of M82 we find (i) a well-defined burst of cluster formation at slightly older ages than derived from previous estimates based on optical fluxes alone, and (ii) that by considering only the clusters originating in this burst of cluster formation, we uncover the first conclusive observational evidence for an unambiguous turn-over in the luminosity function of a coeval star cluster system with an age as young as ~1 Gyr.