Characterization of the velocity anisotropy of accreted globular clusters Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Galactic globular clusters (GCs) are believed to have formed in-situ in the Galaxy as well as in dwarf galaxies later accreted onto the Milky Way. However, to date, there is no unambiguous signature to distinguish accreted GCs. Using specifically designed $N$-body simulations of GCs evolving in a variety of time-dependent tidal fields (describing the potential of a dwarf galaxy-Milky Way merger), we analyze the effects imprinted to the internal kinematics of an accreted GC. In particular, we look at the evolution of the velocity anisotropy. Our simulations show that at early phases, the velocity anisotropy is determined by the tidal field of the dwarf galaxy and subsequently the clusters will adapt to the new tidal environment, losing any signature of their original environment in a few relaxation times. At 10 Gyr, GCs exhibit a variety of velocity anisotropy profiles, namely, isotropic velocity distribution in the inner regions and either isotropy or radial/tangential anisotropy in the intermediate and outer regions. Independently of an accreted origin, the velocity anisotropy primarily depends on the strength of the tidal field cumulatively experienced by a cluster. Tangentially anisotropic clusters correspond to systems that have experienced stronger tidal fields and are characterized by higher tidal filling factor, $r_{50}/r_j\gtrsim0.17$, higher mass loss $\gtrsim60\%$ and relaxation times $t_{rel}\lesssim10^9$ Gyr. Interestingly, we demonstrate that the presence of tidal tails can significantly contaminate the measurements of velocity anisotropy when a cluster is observed in projection. Our characterization of the velocity anisotropy profiles in different tidal environments provides a theoretical benchmark for the interpretation of the unprecedented amount of three-dimensional kinematic data progressively available for Galactic GCs.

publication date

  • October 2017