Journal Article

Evolution of star clusters in arbitrary tidal fields

Florent Renaud, Mark Gieles and Christian M. Boily

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 418, issue 2, pages 759-769
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Evolution of star clusters in arbitrary tidal fields

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We present a novel and flexible tensor approach to computing the effect of a time-dependent tidal field acting on a stellar system. The tidal forces are recovered from the tensor by polynomial interpolation in time. The method has been implemented in a direct-summation stellar dynamics integrator (NBODY6) and test-proved through a set of reference calculations: heating, dissolution time and structural evolution of model star clusters are all recovered accurately. The tensor method is applicable to arbitrary configurations, including the important situation where the background potential is a strong function of time. This opens up new perspectives in stellar population studies reaching to the formation epoch of the host galaxy or galaxy cluster, as well as for starburst events taking place during the merger of large galaxies. A pilot application to a star cluster in the merging galaxies NGC 4038/39 (the Antennae) is presented.

Keywords: methods: analytical; methods: numerical; globular clusters: general; open clusters and associations: general; galaxies: star clusters: general

Journal Article.  7562 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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