Thursday, June 24, 2010

Velocities in Globular Clusters

Testing Newtonian gravity in the low acceleration regime with globular clusters: the case of omega Centauri revisited preprint.
Stellar kinematics in the external regions of globular clusters can be used to probe the validity of Newton's law in the low acceleration regimes without the complication of non-baryonic dark matter. Indeed, in contrast with what happens when studying galaxies, in globular clusters a systematic deviation of the velocity dispersion profile from the expected Keplerian falloff would provide indication of a breakdown of Newtonian dynamics rather than the existence of dark matter. We perform a detailed analysis of the velocity dispersion in the globular cluster omega Centauri in order to investigate whether it does decrease monotonically with distance as recently claimed by Sollima et al. (2009), or whether it converges toward a constant value as claimed by Scarpa Marconi and Gilmozzi (2003B). We combine measurements from these two works to almost double the data available at large radii, in this way obtaining an improved determination of the velocity dispersion profile in the low acceleration regime. We found the inner region of omega Centauri is clearly rotating, while the rotational velocity tend to vanish, and is consistent with no rotation at all, in the external regions. The cluster velocity dispersion at large radii from the center is found to be sensibly constant. The main conclusion of this work is that strong similarities are emerging between globular clusters and elliptical galaxies, for in both classes of objects the velocity dispersion tends to remain constant at large radii. In the case of galaxies, this is ascribed to the presence of a massive halo of dark matter, something physically unlikely in the case of globular clusters. Such similarity, if confirmed, is best explained by a breakdown of Newtonian dynamics below a critical acceleration

Omega Centauri ESO

While this paper asserts that globular clusters cannot contain dark matter, it didn't actually seem to provide the reason why not. Upon googling, I didn't stumble upon a really definitive explanation of this, and it seemed that other researchers may disagree.

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