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Weakly damped modes in star clusters and galaxiesA perturber may excite a coherent mode in a star cluster or galaxy. If the stellar system is stable, it is commonly assumed that such a mode will be strongly damped and therefore of little practical consequence other than redistributing momentum and energy deposited by the perturber. This paper demonstrates that this assumption is false; weakly damped modes exist and may persist long enough to have observable consequences. To do this, a method for investigating the dispersion relation for spherical stellar systems and for locating weakly damped modes in particular is developed and applied to King models of varying concentration. This leads to a following remarkable result: King models exhibit very weakly damped m = 1 modes over a wide range of concentration (0.67 less than or equal to c less than or equal to 1.5 have been examined). The predicted damping time is tens of hundreds of crossing times. This mode causes the peak density to shift from and slowly revolve about the initial center. The existence of the mode is supported by n-body simulation. Higher order modes and possible astronomical consequences are discussed. Weakly damped modes, for example, may provide a neutral explanation for observed discrepancies between density and kinematic centers in galaxies, off-center nuclei, the location of velocity cusps due to massive black holes, and both m = 1 and barlike disturbances of disks enbedded in massive halos or spheroids. Gravitational shocking may excite the m = 1 mode in globular clusters, which could modify their subsequent evolution and displace the positions of exotic remnants.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Weinberg, Martin D. (Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA United States)
Date Acquired
August 16, 2013
Publication Date
February 1, 1994
Publication Information
Publication: Astrophysical Journal, Part 1
Volume: 421
Issue: 2
ISSN: 0004-637X
Subject Category
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits