Modelling the observed stellar mass function and its radial variation in galactic globular clusters

We measure how the slope α of the stellar mass function (MF) changes as a function of clustercentric distance r in five Galactic globular clusters and compare α(r) to predictions from direct N-body star cluster simulations. Theoretical studies predict that α(r) (which traces the degree of mass segregation in a cluster) should steepen with time as a cluster undergoes two-body relaxation and that the amount by which the global MF can evolve from its initial state due to stellar escape is directly linked to α(r). We find that the amount of mass segregation in M10, NGC 6218, and NGC 6981 is consistent with their dynamical ages, but only the global MF of M10 is consistent with its degree of mass segregation as well. NGC 5466 and NGC 6101 on the other hand appear to be less segregated than their dynamical ages would indicate. Furthermore, despite the fact that the escape rate of stars in non-segregated clusters is independent of stellar mass, both NGC 5466 and NGC 6101 have near-flat MFs. We discuss various mechanisms which could produce non-segregated clusters with near-flat MFs, including higher mass-loss rates and black hole retention, but argue that for some clusters (NGC 5466 and NGC 6101) explaining the present-day properties might require either a non-universal initial mass function or a much more complex dynamical history.

Publication Date:
Jul 26 2017
Date Submitted:
Feb 22 2019
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 Record created 2019-02-22, last modified 2019-04-03

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