Final stages of N-body star cluster encounters


★ E-mail:


We performed numerical simulations of star cluster encounters with Hernquist’s treecode on a CRAY YMP-2E computer. We used different initial conditions (relative positions and velocities, cluster sizes, masses and concentration degrees) with the total number of particles per simulation ranging from 4608 to 20 480. Long-term interaction stages (up to 1 Gyr) when the pair coalesces into a single cluster are compared with isolated LMC clusters. Evidence is found that, when seen in a favourable plane, these resulting clusters show elliptical shapes as a result of the disruption of one of the companions. These elliptical shapes are essentially time-independent, but they do depend on the initial structural parameters of the pair components. We also analysed the fraction of stars that are ejected to the field by the interaction. We found that this fraction can be almost 50 per cent for the disrupted cluster. These simulations can represent a possible mechanism with which to explain the ellipticity observed in several star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds.