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Symposium 241

Abstract details

Star Clusters as Tracers of Extragalactic Stellar Populations.
Soeren S. Larsen

Star clusters have long been recognized as attractive test particles for studies of extragalactic stellar populations. Age- and metallicity estimates can be obtained for individual star clusters at distances out to Virgo and beyond, and we are just now on the verge of being able to carry out detailed abundance analysis for extragalactic star clusters. Thus, star clusters allow a detailed reconstruction of the evolutionary histories of their host galaxies which is in many cases not otherwise possible. However, before we can take advantage of the full potential of clusters as tracers of stellar populations, it is necessary to quantify how well they actually trace the formation histories of their host galaxies. I will discuss recent progress in the study of formation efficiencies, mass functions and disruption time-scales based on HST- and ground-based imaging and spectroscopy of "young massive clusters" in several nearby galaxies, where both clusters and field stars are resolvable. In some cases, colour-magnitude diagrams are available for individual clusters, allowing a detailed inter-comparison of various age-dating techniques (CMDs, broad-band colours, spectroscopy) and a critical test of models for massive stars in galaxies beyond the Milky Way.

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