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Keywords:

  • methods: observational;
  • techniques: photometric;
  • stars: Population II;
  • globular clusters: general

ABSTRACT

Using deep photometric data from Wide Field Camera at the Isaac Newton Telescope and Wide Field Imager at the ESO 2.2-m telescope we measure the outer number density profiles of 19 stellar clusters located in the inner region of the Milky Way halo (within a Galactocentric distance range of 10–30 kpc) in order to assess the impact of internal and external dynamical processes on the spatial distribution of stars. Adopting power-law fitting templates, with index −γ in the outer region, we find that the clusters in our sample can be divided in two groups: a group of massive clusters (≥105 M) that has relatively flat profiles with 2.5 < γ < 4, and a group of low-mass clusters (≤105 M), with steep profiles (γ > 4) and clear signatures of interaction with the Galactic tidal field. We refer to these two groups as ‘tidally unaffected’ and ‘tidally affected’, respectively. Our results also show a clear trend between the slope of the outer parts and the half-mass density of these systems, which suggests that the outer density profiles may retain key information on the dominant processes driving the dynamical evolution of globular clusters.