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Star cluster life-times: dependence on mass, radius and environment

Gieles, M, Lamers, H and Baumgardt, H (2007) Star cluster life-times: dependence on mass, radius and environment

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The dissolution time (t_dis) of clusters in a tidal field does not scale with the ``classical'' expression for the relaxation time. First, the scaling with N, and hence cluster mass, is shallower due to the finite escape time of stars. Secondly, the cluster half-mass radius is of little importance. This is due to a balance between the relative tidal field strength and internal relaxation, which have an opposite effect on t_dis, but of similar magnitude. When external perturbations, such as encounters with giant molecular clouds (GMC) are important, t_dis for an individual cluster depends strongly on radius. The mean dissolution time for a population of clusters, however, scales in the same way with mass as for the tidal field, due to the weak dependence of radius on mass. The environmental parameters that determine t_dis are the tidal field strength and the density of molecular gas. We compare the empirically derived t_dis of clusters in six galaxies to theoretical predictions and argue that encounters with GMCs are the dominant destruction mechanism. Finally, we discuss a number of pitfalls in the derivations of t_dis from observations, such as incompleteness, with the cluster system of the SMC as particular example.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Surrey research (other units)
Authors :
Lamers, H
Baumgardt, H
Date : 12 October 2007
DOI : 10.1017/S1743921308015536
Uncontrolled Keywords : astro-ph, astro-ph
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 17 May 2017 12:40
Last Modified : 24 Jan 2020 22:38

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