On the dissolution of star clusters in the Galactic centre. I. Circular orbits

A. Ernst1,2, A. Just1, R. Spurzem1

(1) Astronomisches Rechen-Institut/Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Mönchhofstrasse 12-14, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany,
(2) Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany

Paper: MNRAS, 2009, accepted

EPrint Server: 0906.4459


We present N-body simulations of dissolving star clusters close to galactic centres. For this purpose, we developed a new N-body program called nbody6gc based on Aarseth's series of N-body codes. We describe the algorithm in detail. We report about the density wave phenomenon in the tidal arms which has been recently explained by Küpper et al. (2008). Standing waves develop in the tidal arms. The wave knots or clumps develop at the position, where the emerging tidal arm hits the potential wall of the effective potential and is reflected. The escaping stars move through the wave knots further into the tidal arms. We show the consistency of the positions of the wave knots with the theory in Just et al. (2009). We also demonstrate a simple method to study the properties of tidal arms. By solving many eigenvalue problems along the tidal arms, we construct numerically a 1D coordinate system whose directio n is always along a principal axis of the local tensor of inertia. Along this coordinate system, physical quantities can be evaluated. The half-mass or dissolution times of our models are almost independent of the particle number which indicates that two-body relaxation is not the dominant mechanism leading to the dissolution. This may be a typical situation for many young star clusters. We propose a classification scheme which sheds light on the dissolution mechanism.

Preprints available from the authors at aernst@ari.uni-heidelberg.de , or the raw TeX (no figures) if you click here.

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