The merger model for elliptical galaxy formation has received increasing attention since it was first suggested by Toomre & Toomre (1972). Van den Bergh (1984) pointed out a problem with the idea that elliptical galaxies were formed by simply combining two, or more, spiral galaxies. He noted that the specific frequency (SN, number of globular clusters per unit galaxy light) is systematically lower for spirals than for ellipticals. Schweizer (1987) suggested that globular clusters (GCs) might be expected to form in the merger process, thereby alleviating or possibly eliminating the SN problem. Ashman & Zepf (1992) developed this idea into a merger model for GC formation with testable predictions.
We recently examined this model in the light of new HST and ground-based imaging data on the blue and red sub-populations of GCs in elliptical galaxies (Forbes, Brodie & Grillmair 1997). We concluded that the merger model for GC formation has serious problems, particularly in explaining the characteristics of GCs in giant elliptical galaxies with high SN. A multi-phase collapse scenario was suggested as more consistent with the available evidence.