Introducing a new multi-particle collision method for the evolution of dense stellar systems: II. Core collapse

Pierfrancesco Di Cintio, Mario Pasquato, Alicia Simon-Petit, Suk Jin Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context. In a previous paper we introduced a new method for simulating collisional gravitational N-body systems with linear time scaling on N, based on the multi-particle collision (MPC) approach. This allows us to easily simulate globular clusters with a realistic number of stellar particles (105 106) in a matter of hours on a typical workstation. Aims. We evolve star clusters containing up to 106 stars to core collapse and beyond. We quantify several aspects of core collapse over multiple realizations and different parameters while always resolving the cluster core with a realistic number of particles. Methods. We run a large set of N-body simulations with our new code MPCDSS. The cluster mass function is a pure power law with no stellar evolution, allowing us to clearly measure the effects of the mass spectrum on core collapse. Results. Leading up to core collapse, we find a power-law relation between the size of the core and the time left to core collapse. Our simulations thus confirm the theoretical self-similar contraction picture but with a dependence on the slope of the mass function. The time of core collapse has a non-monotonic dependence on the slope, which is well fitted by a parabola. This also holds for the depth of core collapse and for the dynamical friction timescale of heavy particles. Cluster density profiles at core collapse show a broken-power-law structure, suggesting that central cusps are a genuine feature of collapsed cores. The core bounces back after collapse, with visible fluctuations, and the inner density slope evolves to an asymptotic value. The presence of an intermediate-mass black hole inhibits core collapse, making it much shallower, irrespective of the mass-function slope. Conclusions. We confirm and expand on several predictions of star cluster evolution before, during, and after core collapse. Such predictions were based on theoretical calculations or small-size direct N-body simulations. Here we put them to the test in MPC simulations with a much larger number of particles, allowing us to resolve the collapsing core.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA19
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. M.P. acknowledges financial support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 896248. M.P. contribution to this material is based upon work supported by Tamkeen under the NYU Abu Dhabi Research Institute grant CAP3. P.F.D.C. and A.S.-P. wish to thank the financing from MIUR-PRIN2017 project Coarse-grained description for non-equilibrium systems and transport phenomena (CO-NEST) n.201798CZL. S.-J.Y. acknowledges support by the Mid-career Researcher Program (No.2019R1A2C3006242) and the SRC Program (the Center for Galaxy Evolution Research; No. 2017R1A5A1070354) through the National Research Foundation of Korea. We thank the anonymous Referee for his/her comments that helped improving the presentation of our results.

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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