Tidal tails of star clusters

Andreas H. W. Kuepper, Pavel Kroupa, Holger Baumgardt, Douglas C. Heggie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Based on recent findings of a formation mechanism of substructure in tidal tails by Kupper et al., we investigate a more comprehensive set of N-body models of star clusters on orbits about a Milky Way like potential. We find that the predicted epicyclic overdensities arise in any tidal tail no matter which orbit the cluster follows as long as the cluster lives long enough for the overdensities to build up.

The distance of the overdensities along the tidal tail from the cluster centre depends for circular orbits only on the mass of the cluster and the strength of the tidal field, and therefore decreases monotonically with time, while for eccentric orbits the orbital motion influences the distance, causing a periodic compression and stretching of the tails and making the distance oscillate with time. We provide an approximation for estimating the distance of the overdensities in this case.

We describe an additional type of overdensity which arises in extended tidal tails of clusters on eccentric orbits, when the acceleration of the tidal field on the stellar stream is no longer homogeneous. Moreover, we conclude that a pericentre passage or a disc shock is not the direct origin of an overdensity within a tidal tail. Escape due to such tidal perturbations does not take place immediately after the perturbation but is rather delayed and spread over the orbit of the cluster. All observable overdensities are therefore of the mentioned two types. In particular, we note that substructured tidal tails do not imply the existence of dark matter substructures in the haloes of galaxies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume401
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010

Keywords

  • methods: analytical
  • methods: N-body simulations
  • galaxies: haloes
  • galaxies: kinematics and dynamics
  • galaxies: star clusters
  • dark matter
  • INITIAL MASS FUNCTION
  • N-BODY SIMULATIONS
  • DIGITAL SKY SURVEY
  • GLOBULAR-CLUSTERS
  • DYNAMICAL EVOLUTION
  • GALACTIC TIDES
  • CORE COLLAPSE
  • EQUAL MASSES
  • MILKY-WAY
  • PALOMAR-5

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