SCYON Abstract

Received on February 21 2003

White Dwarf Sequences in Dense Star Clusters

AuthorsJarrod R. Hurley, Michael M. Shara
AffiliationDepartment of Astrophysics, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, New York, NY 10024
Accepted byAstrophysical Journal


We use the results of realistic N-body simulations to investigate the appearance of the white dwarf population in dense star clusters. We show that the presence of a substantial binary population in a star cluster, and the interaction of this population with the cluster environment, has serious consequences for the morphology of the observed white dwarf sequence and the derived white dwarf cooling age of the cluster.

We find that over time the dynamical evolution of the cluster - mass-segregation, stellar interactions and tidal stripping - hampers the use of white dwarfs as tracers of the initial mass function, and also leads to a significant enhancement of the white dwarf mass fraction.

Future observations of star clusters should be conducted slightly interior to the half-mass radius of the cluster in order to best obtain information about the cluster age and initial mass function from the white dwarf luminosity function. The evolution of binary stars and the cluster environment must necessarily be accounted for when studying the white dwarf populations of dynamically evolved star clusters.