High-velocity stars from close interaction of a globular cluster and a supermassive black hole

R. Capuzzo-Dolcetta, G. Fragione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Observations show the presence, in the halo of our Galaxy, of starsmoving at velocities so high to require an acceleration mechanism involving the presence of a massive central black hole. Thus, in the frame of a galaxy hosting a supermassive black hole (108M⊙) we investigated a mechanism for the production of high-velocity stars, which was suggested by the results of N-body simulations of the close interaction between a massive, orbitally decayed, globular cluster and the supermassive black hole. The high velocity acquired by some stars of the cluster comes from the transfer of gravitational binding energy into kinetic energy of the escaping star originally orbiting around the cluster. After the close interaction with the massive black hole, stars could reach a velocity sufficient to travel in the halo and even overcome the galactic gravitational well, while some of them are just stripped from the globular cluster and start orbiting on precessing loops around the galactic centre.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2677-2690
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2015


  • Galaxies: haloes
  • Galaxies: nuclei
  • Galaxies:star clusters: general
  • Stars: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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