Volume 558, October 2013
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Galactic structure, stellar clusters and populations|
|Published online||15 October 2013|
N-body simulations of globular clusters in tidal fields: Effects of intermediate-mass black holes
European Southern Observatory (ESO),
2 School of Mathematics and Physics, University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia
3 Max-Planck Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
Received: 21 May 2013
Accepted: 30 July 2013
Context. Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) may provide the missing link to understanding the growth of supermassive black holes in the early Universe. Some formation scenarios predict that IMBHs could have formed by runaway collisions in globular clusters (GCs). However, it is challenging to set observational constraints on the mass of a black hole in a largely gas-free (and hence accretion-free) stellar system such as a GC. Understanding the influence of an IMBH in the center of a GC on its environment might provide indirect detection methods.
Aims. Our goal is to test the effects of different initial compositions of GCs on their evolution in a tidal field. We pin down the crucial observables that indicate the presence of an IMBH at the center of the cluster. In addition to central IMBHs, we also consider the effects of different stellar-mass black hole retention and stellar binary fractions.
Methods. We performed a set of 22 N-body simulations and varied particle numbers, IMBH masses, stellar-mass black-hole retention fractions, and stellar binary fractions. These models are all run in an external tidal field to study the effect of black holes on the cluster mass loss, mass function, and life times. Finally, we compared our results with observational data.
Results. We found that a central massive black hole increases the escape rate of high-mass stars from a star cluster, implying that the relative depletion of the mass function at the low-mass end proceeds less rapidly. Furthermore, we found a similar behavior for a cluster hosting a high number of stellar-mass black holes instead of one massive central IMBH. The presence of an IMBH also weakly affects the fraction of the cluster mass that is constituted by stellar remnants, as does the presence of primordial binaries. We compared our simulations with observational data from the literature and found good agreement between our models and observed mass functions and structural parameters of GCs. We exploited this agreement to identify GCs that could potentially host IMBHs.
Key words: black hole physics / stars: kinematics and dynamics / methods: numerical / galaxies: star clusters: general
© ESO, 2013
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