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Title: An elusive dark central mass in the globular cluster M4

Recent studies of nearby globular clusters have discovered excess dark mass in their cores, apparently in an extended distribution, and simulations indicate that this mass is composed mostly of white dwarfs (respectively stellar-mass black holes) in clusters that are core collapsed (respectively with a flatter core). We perform mass-anisotropy modelling of the closest globular cluster, M4, with intermediate slope for the inner stellar density. We use proper motion data from Gaia Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) and from observations by the Hubble Space Telescope. We extract the mass profile employing Bayesian Jeans modelling, and check our fits with realistic mock data. Our analyses return isotropic motions in the cluster core and tangential motions (β ≈ −0.4 ± 0.1) in the outskirts. We also robustly measure a dark central mass of roughly $800\pm 300 \, \rm M_\odot$ , but it is not possible to distinguish between a point-like source, such as an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH), and a dark population of stellar remnants of extent ${\approx} 0.016\, {\rm pc} \simeq 3300\, {\rm au}$ . However, when removing a high-velocity star from the cluster centre, the same mass excess is found, but more extended (${\sim} 0.034\, {\rm pc} \approx 7000\, {\rm au}$ ). more » We use Monte Carlo N-body models of M4 to interpret the second outcome, and find that our excess mass is not sufficiently extended to be confidently associated with a dark population of remnants. Finally, we discuss the feasibility of these two scenarios (i.e. IMBH versus remnants), and propose new observations that could help to better grasp the complex dynamics in M4’s core.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 5740-5757
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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