The Ophiuchus stream progenitor: A new type of globular cluster and its possible Sagittarius connection

James M. M. Lane*, Julio F. Navarro, Azadeh Fattahi, Kyle A. Oman, Jo Bovy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The Ophiuchus stream is a short arc-like stellar feature of uncertain origin located ∼5 kpc North of the Galactic centre. New proper motions from the second Gaia data release reconcile the direction of motion of stream members with the stream arc, resolving a puzzling mismatch reported in earlier work. We use N-body simulations to show that the stream is likely only on its second pericentric passage, and thus was formed recently. The simulations suggest that most of the disrupted progenitor is visible in the observed stream today, and that little further tidal debris is expected to lie beyond the ends of the stream. The luminosity, length, width, and velocity dispersion of the stream suggest a globular cluster (GC) progenitor substantially fainter and of lower surface brightness than estimated in previous work, and unlike any other known globulars in the Galaxy. This result suggests the existence of clusters that would extend the known GC population to fainter and more weakly bound systems than hitherto known.How such a weakly bound cluster of old stars survived until it was disrupted so recently, however, remains a mystery. Integrating backwards in time, we find that the orbits of Sagittarius and Ophiuchus passed within ∼5 kpc of each other about ∼100 Myr ago, an interaction that might help resolve this puzzle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4164-4174
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume492
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2020

Keywords

  • Galaxy: evolution
  • globular clusters: general
  • Galaxy: halo
  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • Galaxy: structure
  • galaxies: dwarf
  • PARSEC EVOLUTIONARY TRACKS
  • OUTER LINDBLAD RESONANCE
  • STELLAR EVOLUTION
  • MASSIVE STARS
  • GALACTIC BAR
  • MODELS
  • SYSTEM
  • MASSES

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