N-body models of extended star clusters

Jarrod R. Hurley*, A. Dougal Mackey

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    We use direct N-body simulations to investigate the evolution of star clusters with large size-scales with the particular goal of understanding the so-called extended clusters observed in various Local Group galaxies, including M31 and NGC 6822. The N-body models incorporate a stellar mass function, stellar evolution and the tidal field of a host galaxy. We find that extended clusters can arise naturally within a weak tidal field, provided that the tidal radius is filled at the start of the evolution. Differences in the initial tidal filling factor can produce marked differences in the subsequent evolution of clusters and the size-scales that would be observed. These differences are more marked than any produced by internal evolution processes linked to the properties of cluster binary stars or the action of an intermediate-mass black hole, based on models performed in this work and previous work to date. Models evolved in a stronger tidal field show that extended clusters cannot form and evolve within the inner regions of a galaxy, such as M31. Instead, our results support the suggestion that many extended clusters found in large galaxies were accreted as members of dwarf galaxies that were subsequently disrupted. Our results also enhance the recent suggestion that star clusters evolve to a common sequence in terms of their size and mass.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2353-2363
    Number of pages11
    JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Volume408
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010

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