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Mass estimators in the Gaia era


E-mail: (JA); (NWE); (AJD)


Forthcoming astrometric missions such as the Gaia satellite will bring to the fore the problem of estimating the enclosed mass from a set of positions, radial velocities and proper motions of tracer stars. Here, we show how to construct the tracer mass estimator when the proper-motion data are available in addition to the usual line-of-sight velocity data. Notably, the mass estimators do not require any assumption on the anisotropy, as it is naturally incorporated through the different components of proper motions. In addition, the separate treatment of the proper motions and the line-of-sight velocities is desirable because they are observationally independent and thus the propagation of the combined uncertainties is rather straightforward. The extension to projected data is also sketched, together with a possible application of measuring the masses of Galactic globular clusters.