Kinematic fingerprint of core-collapsed globular clusters Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Dynamical evolution drives globular clusters toward core collapse, which strongly shapes their internal properties. Diagnostics of core collapse have so far been based on photometry only, namely on the study of the concentration of the density profiles. Here we present a new method to robustly identify core-collapsed clusters based on the study of their stellar kinematics. We introduce the \textit{kinematic concentration} parameter, $c_k$, the ratio between the global and local degree of energy equipartition reached by a cluster, and show through extensive direct $N$-body simulations that clusters approaching core collapse and in the post-core collapse phase are strictly characterized by $c_k>1$. The kinematic concentration provides a suitable diagnostic to identify core-collapsed clusters, independent from any other previous methods based on photometry. We also explore the effects of incomplete radial and stellar mass coverage on the calculation of $c_k$ and find that our method can be applied to state-of-art kinematic datasets.

publication date

  • March 21, 2018