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Constraining the initial conditions of globular clusters using their radius distribution

Alexander, PER and Gieles, M (2013) Constraining the initial conditions of globular clusters using their radius distribution Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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Studies of extra-galactic globular clusters have shown that the peak size of the globular cluster (GC) radius distribution (RD) depends only weakly on galactic environment, and can be used as a standard ruler. We model RDs of GC populations using a simple prescription for a Hubble time of relaxation driven evolution of cluster mass and radius, and explore the conditions under which the RD can be used as a standard ruler. We consider a power-law cluster initial mass function (CIMF) with and without an exponential truncation, and focus in particular on a flat and a steep CIMF (power-law indices of 0 and -2, respectively). For the initial half-mass radii at birth we adopt either Roche-lobe filling conditions ('filling',meaning that the ratio of half-mass to Jacobi radius is approximately rh/rJ ~ 0.15) or strongly Roche-lobe under-filling conditions ('under-filling', implying that initially rh/rJ << 0.15). Assuming a constant orbital velocity about the galaxy centre we find for a steep CIMF that the typical half-light radius scales with galactocentric radius RG as RG^1/3. This weak scaling is consistent with observations, but this scenario has the (well known) problem that too many low-mass clusters survive. A flat CIMF with 'filling' initial conditions results in the correct mass function at old ages, but with too many large (massive) clusters at large RG. An 'underfilling' GC population with a flat CIMF also results in the correct mass function, and can also successfully reproduce the shape of the RD, with a peak size that is (almost) independent of RG. In this case, the peak size depends (almost) only on the peak mass of the GC mass function. The (near) universality of the GC RD is therefore because of the (near) universality of the CIMF. There are some extended GCs in the outer halo of the Milky Way that cannot be explained by this model.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences > Physics
Authors :
Date : 13 February 2013
Identification Number : 10.1093/mnrasl/slt022
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 01 Jul 2015 15:11
Last Modified : 31 Oct 2017 16:29

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