N-body models of globular clusters: metallicities, half-light radii and mass-to-light ratios Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Size differences of approx. 20% between red (metal-rich) and blue (metal-poor) sub-populations of globular clusters have been observed, generating an ongoing debate as to weather these originate from projection effects or the difference in metallicity. We present direct N-body simulations of metal-rich and metal-poor stellar populations evolved to study the effects of metallicity on cluster evolution. The models start with N = 100000 stars and include primordial binaries. We also take metallicity dependent stellar evolution and an external tidal field into account. We find no significant difference for the half-mass radii of those models, indicating that the clusters are structurally similar. However, utilizing observational tools to fit half-light (or effective) radii confirms that metallicity effects related to stellar evolution combined with dynamical effects such as mass segregation produce an apparent size difference of 17% on average. The metallicity effect on the overall cluster luminosity also leads to higher mass-to-light ratios for metal-rich clusters.

publication date

  • November 21, 2012