On the mass-radius relation of hot stellar systems

Mark Gieles, Holger Baumgardt, Douglas C. Heggie, Henny J. G. L. M. Lamers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Most globular clusters have half-mass radii of a few pc with no apparent correlation with their masses. This is different from elliptical galaxies, for which the Faber-Jackson relation suggests a strong positive correlation between mass and radius. Objects that are somewhat in between globular clusters and low-mass galaxies, such as ultracompact dwarf galaxies, have a mass-radius relation consistent with the extension of the relation for bright ellipticals. Here we show that at an age of 10 Gyr a break in the mass-radius relation at similar to 10(6) M-circle dot is established because objects below this mass, i.e. globular clusters, have undergone expansion driven by stellar evolution and hard binaries. From numerical simulations we find that the combined energy production of these two effects in the core comes into balance with the flux of energy that is conducted across the half-mass radius by relaxation. An important property of this 'balanced' evolution is that the cluster half-mass radius is independent of its initial value and is a function of the number of bound stars and the age only. It is therefore not possible to infer the initial mass-radius relation of globular clusters, and we can only conclude that the present day properties are consistent with the hypothesis that all hot stellar systems formed with the same mass-radius relation and that globular clusters have moved away from this relation because of a Hubble time of stellar and dynamical evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L16-L20
Number of pages5
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume408
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • methods: numerical
  • globular clusters: general
  • galaxies: fundamental parameters
  • galaxies: star clusters
  • N-BODY SIMULATIONS
  • TO-LIGHT RATIOS
  • GLOBULAR-CLUSTERS
  • CORE COLLAPSE
  • STAR-CLUSTERS
  • FUNDAMENTAL PLANE
  • STRUCTURAL PARAMETERS
  • VELOCITY DISPERSIONS
  • BRIGHTNESS PROFILES
  • DWARF GALAXIES

Cite this