Get access

A comprehensive nbody study of mass segregation in star clusters: energy equipartition and escape


E-mail: (EK); (PAS); (RS)


We address the dynamical evolution of an isolated self-gravitating system with two stellar mass groups. We vary the individual ratio of the heavy to light bodies, μ from 1.25 to 50 and alter also the fraction of the total heavy mass inline image from 5 to 40 per cent of the whole cluster mass. Clean-cut properties of the cluster dynamics are examined, like core collapse, the evolution of the central potential, as well as escapers. We present in this work collisional N-body simulations, using the high-order integrator nbody6++ with up to inline image particles improving the statistical significancy of the lower-inline image simulations by ensemble averages. Equipartition slows down the gravothermal contraction of the core slightly. Beyond a critical value of μ≈ 2, no equipartition can be achieved between the different masses; the heavy component decouples and collapses. For the first time, the critical boundary between Spitzer-stable and Spitzer-unstable systems is demonstrated in direct N-body models. We also present the measurements of the Coulomb logarithm and discuss the relative importance of the evaporation and ejection of escapers.