Monte Carlo simulations of globular cluster evolution. VI. the influence of an intermediate-mass black hole

Stefan Umbreit*, John M. Fregeau, Sourav Chatterjee, Frederic A. Rasio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


We present results from a series of Monte Carlo (MC) simulations investigating the imprint of a central intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) on the structure of a globular cluster. We investigate the three-dimensional and projected density profiles, and stellar disruption rates for idealized as well as realistic cluster models, taking into account a stellar mass spectrum and stellar evolution, and allowing for a larger, more realistic number of stars than was previously possible with direct N-body methods. We compare our results to other N-body and Fokker-Planck simulations published previously. We find, in general, very good agreement for the overall cluster structure and dynamical evolution between direct N-body simulations and our MC simulations. Significant differences exist in the number of stars that are tidally disrupted by the IMBH, and this is most likely caused by the wandering motion of the IMBH, not included in the MC scheme. These differences, however, are negligible for the final IMBH masses in realistic cluster models, as the disruption rates are generally much lower than for single-mass clusters. As a direct comparison to observations we construct a detailed model for the cluster NGC5694, which is known to possess a central surface brightness cusp consistent with the presence of an IMBH. We find that not only the inner slope but also the outer part of the surface brightness profile agree well with observations. However, there is only a slight preference for models harboring an IMBH compared to models without.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number31
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2012


  • black hole physics
  • globular clusters: general
  • globular clusters: individual (NGC 5694)
  • methods: numerical
  • stars: kinematics and dynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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