Kinematical evolution of tidally limited star clusters: the role of retrograde stellar orbits

Maria A. Tiongco, Enrico Vesperini, Anna Lisa Varri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The presence of an external tidal field often induces significant dynamical evolutionary effects on the internal kinematics of star clusters. Previous studies investigating the restricted three-body problem with applications to star cluster dynamics have shown that unbound stars on retrograde orbits (with respect to the direction of the cluster's orbit) are more stable against escape than prograde orbits, and predicted that a star cluster might acquire retrograde rotation through preferential escape of stars on prograde orbits. In this study, we present evidence of this prediction, but we also illustrate that there are additional effects that cannot be accounted for by the preferential escape of prograde orbits alone. Specifically, in the early evolution, initially underfilling models increase their fraction of retrograde stars without losing significant mass, and acquire a retrograde angular velocity. We attribute this effect to the development of preferentially eccentric/radial orbits in the outer regions of star clusters as they are expanding into their tidal limitation. We explore the implications of the evolution of the fraction of prograde and retrograde stars for the evolution of the cluster internal rotation, and its dependence on the initial structural properties. Although all the systems studied here evolve towards an approximately solid-body internal rotation with angular velocity equal to about half of the angular velocity of the cluster orbital motion around the host galaxy, the evolutionary history of the radial profile of the cluster internal angular velocity depends on the cluster initial structure.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-411
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2016

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • methods: numerical
  • globular clusters: general
  • galaxies: star clusters: general


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