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HST's hunt for intermediate-mass black holes in star clusters

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 January 2010

Julio Chanamé
Affiliation:
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, USA email: jchaname@dtm.ciw.edu
Justice Bruursema
Affiliation:
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
Rupali Chandar
Affiliation:
Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA
Jay Anderson
Affiliation:
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA
Roeland van der Marel
Affiliation:
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD, USA
Holland Ford
Affiliation:
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
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Abstract

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Establishing or ruling out, either through solid mass measurements or upper limits, the presence of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs; with masses of 102 − 105 M) at the centers of star clusters would profoundly impact our understanding of problems ranging from the formation and long-term dynamical evolution of stellar systems, to the nature of the seeds and the growth mechanisms of supermassive black holes. While there are sound theoretical arguments both for and against their presence in today's clusters, observational studies have so far not yielded truly conclusive IMBH detections nor upper limits. We argue that the most promising approach to solving this issue is provided by the combination of measurements of the proper motions of stars at the centers of Galactic globular clusters and dynamical models able to take full advantage of this type of data set. We present a program based on HST observations and recently developed tools for dynamical analysis designed to do just that.

Type
Contributed Papers
Copyright
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2010

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