Journal Article

Testing Newtonian gravity with AAOmega: mass-to-light profiles and metallicity calibrations from 47 Tuc and M55

Richard R. Lane, László L. Kiss, Geraint F. Lewis, Rodrigo A. Ibata, Arnaud Siebert, Timothy R. Bedding and Péter Székely

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 401, issue 4, pages 2521-2530
Published in print February 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online January 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Testing Newtonian gravity with AAOmega: mass-to-light profiles and metallicity calibrations from 47 Tuc and M55

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Globular clusters (GCs) are an important test bed for Newtonian gravity in the weak-acceleration regime, which is vital to our understanding of the nature of the gravitational interaction. Recent claims have been made that the velocity dispersion profiles of GCs flatten out at large radii, despite an apparent paucity of dark matter (DM) in such objects, indicating the need for a modification of gravitational theories. We continue our investigation of this claim, with the largest spectral samples ever obtained of 47 Tucanae (47 Tuc) and M55. Furthermore, this large sample allows for an accurate metallicity calibration based on the equivalent widths of the calcium triplet lines and K-band magnitude of the Tip of the Red Giant Branch. Assuming an isothermal distribution, the rotations of each cluster are also measured with both clusters exhibiting clear rotation signatures. The global velocity dispersions of NGC 121 and Kron 3, two GCs in the Small Magellanic Cloud, are also calculated. By applying a simple dynamical model to the velocity dispersion profiles of 47 Tuc and M55, we calculate their mass-to-light profiles, total masses and central velocity dispersions. We find no statistically significant flattening of the velocity dispersion at large radii for M55, and a marked increase in the profile of 47 Tuc for radii greater than approximately half the tidal radius. We interpret this increase as an evaporation signature, indicating that 47 Tuc is undergoing, or has undergone, core-collapse, but find no requirement for DM or a modification of gravitational theories in either cluster.

Keywords: gravitation; stellar dynamics; globular clusters: individual

Journal Article.  6395 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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