The globular cluster population in M87 has decreased measurably through dynamical evolution caused by relaxation, binary heating and time-dependent tidal perturbation. For fundamental plane ellipticals in general, cluster populations evolve more rapidly in smaller galaxies because of the higher mass density. A simple evolutionary model reproduces the observed trend in specific frequency with luminosity for an initially constant relationship. Fits of theoretically evolved populations to M87 cluster data from McLaughlin et al. (1994) show the following: 1) dynamical effects drive evolution in the initial mass and space distributions and can account for the large core in the spatial profile as well as producing radial-dependence in the mass spectrum; 2) evolution reduces SN by 50% within 16 kpc and 35% within 50 kpc, implying that SN was initially 26 in this region. We estimate that 15% of the ‘missing’ clusters lie below the detection threshold with mass less than 105M⊙
Murali, Chigurupati and Weinberg, Martin D., "Globular Cluster Evolution in M87 and Fundamental Plane Ellipticals" (2008). Astronomy Department Faculty Publication Series. 28.