New science from the phase space of old stellar systems

Anna Lisa Varri, Philip G. Breen, Douglas C. Heggie, Maria Tiongco, Enrico Vesperini

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract

Our traditional interpretative picture of the internal dynamics of globular clusters has been recently revolutionized by a series of discoveries about their chemical, structural, and kinematic properties. The empirical evidence that their velocity space is much more complex than usually expected encourages us to use them as refreshingly novel phase space laboratories for some long-forgotten aspects of collisional gravitational dynamics. Such a realization, coupled with the discovery that the stars in clusters were not all born at once in a single population, makes them new, challenging chemodynamical puzzles.Thanks to the proper motions of thousands of stars that will be available from the Gaia mission, we are about to enter a new ''golden age'' for the study of the dynamics of this class of stellar systems, as the full phase space of several Galactic globular clusters will be soon unlocked for the first time. In this context, I will present the highlights of a more realistic dynamical paradigm for these intriguing stellar systems, with emphasis on the role of angular momentum, velocity anisotropy and external tidal field. Such a fundamental understanding of the emerging phase space complexity of globulars will allow us to address many open questions about their rich dynamical evolution, their elusive stellar populations and putative black holes, and their role within the history of our Galaxy.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017

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