Journal Article

Measurement of the epicycle frequency in the Galactic disc and initial velocities of open clusters

J. R. D. Lépine, Wilton S. Dias and Yu. Mishurov

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 386, issue 4, pages 2081-2090
Published in print June 2008 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Measurement of the epicycle frequency in the Galactic disc and initial velocities of open clusters

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A new method to measure the epicycle frequency κ in the Galactic disc is presented. We make use of the large data base on open clusters completed by our group to derive the observed velocity vector (amplitude and direction) of the clusters in the Galactic plane. In the epicycle approximation, this velocity is equal to the circular velocity given by the rotation curve, plus a residual or perturbation velocity, of which the direction rotates as a function of time with the frequency κ. Due to the non-random direction of the perturbation velocity at the birth time of the clusters, a plot of the present-day direction angle of this velocity as a function of the age of the clusters reveals systematic trends from which the epicycle frequency can be obtained. Our analysis considers that the Galactic potential is mainly axis-symmetric, or in other words, that the effect of the spiral arms on the Galactic orbits is small; in this sense, our results do not depend on any specific model of the spiral structure. The values of κ that we obtain provide constraints on the rotation velocity of the disc; in particular, V0 is found to be 230 ± 15 km s−1 even if the short scale (R0= 7.5 kpc) of the Galaxy is adopted. The measured κ at the solar radius is 43 ± 5 km s−1kpc −1. The distribution of initial velocities of open clusters is discussed.

Keywords: Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics; open clusters and associations: general

Journal Article.  8032 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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