Star count density profiles and structural parameters of 26 Galactic globular clusters

P. Miocchi, B. Lanzoni, F. R. Ferraro, E. Dalessandro, E. Vesperini, M. Pasquato, G. Beccari, C. Pallanca, N. Sanna

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We used an appropriate combination of high-resolution Hubble Space Telescope observations and wide-field, ground-based data to derive the radial stellar density profiles of 26 Galactic globular clusters from resolved star counts (which can be all freely downloaded on-line). With respect to surface brightness (SB) profiles (which can be biased by the presence of sparse, bright stars), star counts are considered to be the most robust and reliable tool to derive cluster structural parameters. For each system, a detailed comparison with both King and Wilson models has been performed and the most relevant best-fit parameters have been obtained. This collection of data represents the largest homogeneous catalog collected so far of star count profiles and structural parameters derived therefrom. The analysis of the data of our catalog has shown that (1) the presence of the central cusps previously detected in the SB profiles of NGC 1851, M13, and M62 is not confirmed; (2) the majority of clusters in our sample are fit equally well by the King and the Wilson models; (3) we confirm the known relationship between cluster size (as measured by the effective radius) and galactocentric distance; (4) the ratio between the core and the effective radii shows a bimodal distribution, with a peak at ∼0.3 for about 80% of the clusters and a secondary peak at ∼0.6 for the remaining 20%. Interestingly, the main peak turns out to be in agreement with that expected from simulations of cluster dynamical evolution and the ratio between these two radii correlates well with an empirical dynamical-age indicator recently defined from the observed shape of blue straggler star radial distribution, thus suggesting that no exotic mechanisms of energy generation are needed in the cores of the analyzed clusters.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number151
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Sep 10 2013


    • catalogs
    • galaxies: star clusters: general
    • globular clusters: general

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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