Core formation by a population of massive remnants

David Merritt, Slawomir Piatek, Simon Portegies Zwart, Marc Hemsendorf

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93 Scopus citations


Core radii of globular clusters in the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds show an increasing trend with age. We propose that this trend is a dynamical effect resulting from the accumulation of massive stars and stellar-mass black holes at the cluster centers. The black holes are remnants of stars with initial masses exceeding ∼20-25 M as their orbits decay by dynamical friction, they heat the stellar background and create a core. Using analytical estimates and N-body experiments, we show that the sizes of the cores so produced and their growth rates are consistent with what is observed. We propose that this mechanism is responsible for the formation of cores in all globular clusters and possibly in other systems as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L25-L28
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Jun 10 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Black hole physics
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Gravitation
  • Gravitational waves


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