Monte Carlo simulations of globular cluster evolution. I. Method and test calculations

Kriten J. Joshi*, Frederic A. Rasio, Simon Portegies Zwart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


We present a new parallel supercomputer implementation of the Monte Carlo method for simulating the dynamical evolution of globular star clusters. Our method is based on a modified version of Hénon's Monte Carlo algorithm for solving the Fokker-Planck equation. Our code allows us to follow the evolution of a cluster containing up to 5 × 105 stars to core collapse in ≲40 hours of computing time. In this paper we present the results of test calculations for clusters with equal-mass stars, starting from both Plummer and King model initial conditions. We consider isolated as well as tidally truncated clusters. Our results are compared to those obtained from approximate, self-similar analytic solutions, from direct numerical integrations of the Fokker-Planck equation, and from direct N-body integrations performed on a GRAPE-4 special-purpose computer with N = 16384. In all cases we find excellent agreement with other methods, establishing our new code as a robust tool for the numerical study of globular cluster dynamics using a realistic number of stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)969-982
Number of pages14
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 PART 1
StatePublished - Sep 10 2000


  • Celestial mechanics, stellar dynamics
  • Globular clusters: general
  • Methods: n-body simulations
  • Methods: numerical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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