A Population of Massive Globular Clusters in NGC 5128

Martini, P. and Ho, L.C. 2004, ApJ, accepted

We present velocity dispersion measurements of 14 globular clusters in NGC 5128 (Centarus A) obtained with the MIKE echelle spectrograph on the 6.5m Magellan Clay telescope. These clusters are among the most luminous globular clusters in NGC 5128 and have velocity dispersions comparable to the most massive clusters known in the Local Group, ranging from 10 - 30 km/s. We describe in detail our cross-correlation measurements, as well as simulations to quantify the uncertainties. These 14 globular clusters are the brightest NGC 5128 globular clusters with surface photometry and structural parameters measured from the Hubble Space Telescope. We have used these measurements to derive masses and mass-to-light ratios for all of these clusters and establish that the fundamental plane relations for globular clusters extend to an order of magnitude higher mass than in the Local Group. The mean mass-to-light ratio for the NGC 5128 clusters is ~3 +/- 1, higher than measurements for all but the most massive Local Group clusters. These massive clusters begin to bridge the mass gap between the most massive star clusters and the lowest-mass galaxies. We find that the properties of NGC 5128 globular clusters overlap quite well with the central properties of nucleated dwarf galaxies and ultracompact dwarf galaxies. As six of these clusters also show evidence for extratidal light, we hypothesize that at least some of these massive clusters are the nuclei of tidally stripped dwarfs.

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