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Keywords:

  • methods: numerical;
  • globular clusters: individual: Palomar 14

ABSTRACT

We present the first ever direct N-body computations of an old Milky Way globular cluster over its entire lifetime on a star-by-star basis. Using recent GPU hardware at Bonn University, we have performed a comprehensive set of N-body calculations to model the distant outer halo globular cluster Palomar 14 (Pal 14). Pal 14 is unusual in that its mean density is about 10 times smaller than that in the solar neighbourhood. Its large radius as well as its low-mass make it possible to simulate Pal 14 on a star-by-star basis. By varying the initial conditions, we aim at finding an initial N-body model which reproduces the observational data best in terms of its basic parameters, i.e. half-light radius, mass and velocity dispersion. We furthermore focus on reproducing the stellar mass function slope of Pal 14 which was found to be significantly shallower than in most globular clusters. While some of our models can reproduce Pal 14’s basic parameters reasonably well, we find that dynamical mass segregation alone cannot explain the mass function slope of Pal 14 when starting from the canonical Kroupa initial mass function (IMF). In order to seek an explanation for this discrepancy, we compute additional initial models with varying degrees of primordial mass segregation as well as with a flattened IMF. The necessary degree of primordial mass segregation turns out to be very high, though, such that we prefer the latter hypothesis which we discuss in detail. This modelling has shown that the initial conditions of Pal 14 after gas expulsion must have been a half-mass radius of about 20 pc, a mass of about 50 000 M, and possibly some mass segregation or an already established non-canonical IMF depleted in low-mass stars. Such conditions might be obtained by a violent early gas-expulsion phase from an embedded cluster born with mass segregation. Only at large Galactocentric radii are clusters likely to survive as bound entities the destructive gas-expulsion process we seem to have uncovered for Pal 14. In addition, we compute a model with a 5 per cent primordial binary fraction to test if such a population has an effect on the cluster’s evolution. We see no significant effect, though, and moreover find that the binary fraction of Pal 14 stays almost the same and gives the final fraction over its entire lifetime due to the cluster’s extremely low density. Low-density, halo globular clusters might therefore be good targets to test primordial binary fractions of globular clusters.