The globular cluster system of the nearest Seyfert II galaxy Circinus

C. Obasi, M. Gómez, D. Minniti, J. Alonso-García, M. Hempel, J. B. Pullen, M. D. Gregg, L. D. Baravalle, M. V. Alonso, B. I. Okere

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Context. The globular cluster (GC) system of Circinus galaxy has not been probed previously partly because of the location of the galaxy at a- 3.8 Galactic latitude, which suffers severely from interstellar extinction, stellar crowding, and Galactic foreground contamination. However, the deep near-infrared (NIR) photometry by the VISTA Variables in the Via Láctea Extended Survey (VVVX) in combination with the precise astrometry of Gaia EDR3 allow us to map GCs in this region. Aims. Our long-term goal is to study and characterise the distributions of GCs and ultra-compact dwarfs in Circinus galaxy, which is the nearest Seyfert II galaxy. Here we conduct the first pilot search for GCs in this galaxy. Methods. We used NIR VVVX photometry in combination with Gaia EDR3 astrometric features, such as astrometric excess noise and the ratio of the sum of the blue photometer (BP) and red photometer (RP) to the broad G passband (BRexcess), to build the first homogeneous catalogue of GCs in Circinus galaxy. A robust combination of selection criteria allows us to effectively clean interlopers from our sample. Results We report the detection of a ¼70 GC candidates in this galaxy at a 3I confidence level. They show a bimodal colour distribution with the blue peak at (Ga- a- a- Ks)0 = 0.985±0.127 mag with a dispersion of 0.211±0.091 mag and the red peak at (Ga- a- a- Ks)0 = 1.625±0.177 mag with a dispersion of 0.482±0.114 mag. A GC specific frequency (Sa-N) of 1.3±0.2 was derived for the galaxy, and we estimated a total population of 120±40 GCs. Based on the projected radial distribution it appears that Circinus has a different distribution of GC candidates than MW and M 31. Conclusions. We demonstrate that Circinus galaxy hosts a sizeable number of cluster candidates. This result is the first leap towards understanding the evolution of old stellar clusters in this galaxy.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA18
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Galaxies: clusters: general
  • Galaxies: spiral
  • Galaxies: stellar content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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