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[*] The HST census of Nuclear Star Clusters - Statistics and first spectra
Boeker T., Laine S., van der Marel R.P., Sarzi M., Rix H.-W., Ho L.C., Shields J.C.
BAAS, in press, 2002 (AAS Meeting 199, 7.05)
© 2001. The American Astronomical Society. All Rights Reserved.


We present the results of our HST/WFPC2 I-band survey of a sample of 77 nearby, late-type spiral galaxies with low inclination. The main purpose of this catalog is to study the frequency and properties of nuclear star clusters. We show that at least 75% of late-type spirals harbor a distinct, compact (but resolved), and dominant source at or very close to their photocenter. From an isophotal analysis, we confirm that these sources are truly `nuclear' star clusters in almost all cases. We present the distribution of cluster luminosities for the full sample, and discuss scenarios for their formation history and possible impact on the evolution of their host galaxies. In addition, we present first results from follow-up spectroscopy with STIS. These observations will reveal the age distribution of nuclear clusters, and will allow us to discriminate between competing formation scenarios for nuclear clusters.

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Last modified November 15, 2001.
Roeland van der Marel, marel@stsci.edu.
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