Tracing the Dynamical History of the Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We use two stellar populations in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae to trace its dynamical history: blue stragglers and low mass main sequence stars. We assumed that the blue stragglers were formed through stellar collisions in all regions of the cluster. We find that in the core of the cluster, models of collisional blue stragglers agree well with the observations as long as blue stragglers are still continuing to form and the mass function in the cluster is extremely biased towards massive stars (x=-8 where a Salpeter mass function has x=+1.35). We show that such an extreme mass function is supported by direct measurements of the luminosity function of main sequence stars in the centre of the cluster. In the middle region of our dataset (25'' to 130'' from the cluster centre), blue straggler formation seems to have stopped about half a Gyr ago. In the outskirts of the cluster, our models are least successful at reproducing the blue straggler data. Taken at face value, they indicate that blue straggler formation has been insignificant over the past billion years, and that a Salpeter mass function applies. However, it is more likely that the dominant formation mechanism in this part of the cluster is not the collisional one, and that our models are not appropriate for this region of the cluster. We conclude that blue stragglers can be used as tracers of dynamics in globular clusters, despite our incomplete understanding of how and where they were formed.

authors

  • Monkman, Eric
  • Sills, Alison
  • Howell, Justin
  • Guhathakurta, Puragra
  • de Angeli, Francesca
  • Beccari, Giacomo

publication date

  • October 10, 2006