Tidal shock

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A tidal shock occurs when a star cluster or other distributed astronomical object passes by a large mass such as an interstellar cloud, resulting in gravitational perturbation on a time scale that is much less than the mean time for a star to complete an orbit within the cluster. The tidal force from this event can increase the dynamic energy of the cluster, in effect heating it up. This causes the cluster to expand and shed some of the outer stars. [1]

Tidal shocks occur, for example, when a globular cluster passes through the galactic plane or near the core of the Milky Way. These events are an important factor during the early evolution of a globular cluster. They work to truncate the outer part of clusters, thereby limiting the impact of future tidal shocks. [2] Streams of stars shed from a globular cluster as a result of tidal shock can form what are termed tidal tails. These are extended streams of stars that lead away from the cluster. [3] Such streams can be used to trace the orbital path of the cluster. [4]

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Globular cluster Spherical collection of stars

A globular cluster is a spherical collection of stars that orbits a galactic core. Globular clusters are very tightly bound by gravity, which gives them their spherical shapes, and relatively high stellar densities toward their centers. The name of this category of star cluster is derived from the Latin, globulus—a small sphere. Occasionally, a globular cluster is known simply as a globular.

Open cluster

An open cluster is a group of up to a few thousand stars that were formed from the same giant molecular cloud and have roughly the same age. More than 1,100 open clusters have been discovered within the Milky Way Galaxy, and many more are thought to exist. They are loosely bound by mutual gravitational attraction and become disrupted by close encounters with other clusters and clouds of gas as they orbit the galactic center. This can result in a migration to the main body of the galaxy and a loss of cluster members through internal close encounters. Open clusters generally survive for a few hundred million years, with the most massive ones surviving for a few billion years. In contrast, the more massive globular clusters of stars exert a stronger gravitational attraction on their members, and can survive for longer. Open clusters have been found only in spiral and irregular galaxies, in which active star formation is occurring.

Planetary nebula Type of emission nebula

A planetary nebula, abbreviated as PN or plural PNe, is a type of emission nebula consisting of an expanding, glowing shell of ionized gas ejected from red giant stars late in their lives.

Astronomical object Large natural physical entity in space

In astronomy, an astronomical object or celestial object is a naturally occurring physical entity, association, or structure that exists in the observable universe. In astronomy, the terms object and body are often used interchangeably. However, an astronomical body or celestial body is a single, tightly bound, contiguous entity, while an astronomical or celestial object is a complex, less cohesively bound structure, which may consist of multiple bodies or even other objects with substructures.

Messier 4

Messier 4 or M4 is a globular cluster in the constellation of Scorpius. It was discovered by Philippe Loys de Chéseaux in 1745 and catalogued by Charles Messier in 1764. It was the first globular cluster in which individual stars were resolved.

Galactic bulge Tightly packed group of stars within a larger formation

In astronomy, a galactic bulge is a tightly packed group of stars within a larger star formation. The term almost exclusively refers to the central group of stars found in most spiral galaxies. Bulges were historically thought to be elliptical galaxies that happened to have a disk of stars around them, but high-resolution images using the Hubble Space Telescope have revealed that many bulges lie at the heart of a spiral galaxy. It is now thought that there are at least two types of bulges: bulges that are like ellipticals and bulges that are like spiral galaxies.

Messier 10

Messier 10 or M10 is a globular cluster of stars in the equatorial constellation of Ophiuchus. The object was discovered by the French astronomer Charles Messier on May 29, 1764, who cataloged it as number 10 in his catalogue and described it as a "nebula without stars". In 1774, German astronomer Johann Elert Bode likewise called it a "nebulous patch without stars; very pale". Using larger instrumentation, German-born astronomer William Herschel was able to resolve the cluster into its individual members. He described it as a "beautiful cluster of extremely compressed stars". William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse thought he could distinguish a dark lane through part of the cluster. The first to estimate the distance to the cluster was Harlow Shapley, although his derivation of 33,000 light years was much further than the modern value.

Messier 53

Messier 53 is a globular cluster in the Coma Berenices constellation. It was discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1775. M53 is one of the more outlying globular clusters, being about 60,000 light-years (18.4 kpc) light-years away from the Galactic Center, and almost the same distance from the Solar system. The cluster has a core radius (rc) of 2.18 pc, a half-light radius (rh) of 5.84 pc, and a tidal radius (rtr) of 239.9 pc.

NGC 1850

NGC 1850 is a double cluster and a super star cluster in the Dorado constellation, located in the northwest part of the bar of the Large Magellanic Cloud, at a distance of 168 kly (51.5 kpc) from the Sun. It was discovered by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop in 1826.

A super star cluster (SSC) is a very massive young open cluster that is thought to be the precursor of a globular cluster. These clusters are referred to as "super" due to the fact that they are relatively more luminous and contain more mass than other young star clusters. The SSC, however, does not have to physically be larger than other clusters of lower mass and luminosity. They typically contain a very large number of young, massive stars that ionize a surrounding HII region or a so-called "Ultra dense HII regions (UDHIIs)" in the Milky Way Galaxy as well as in other galaxies. An SSC's HII region is in turn surrounded by a cocoon of dust. In many cases, the stars and the HII regions will be invisible to observations in certain wavelengths of light, such as the visible spectrum, due to high levels of extinction. As a result, the youngest SSCs are best observed and photographed in radio and infrared. SSCs, such as Westerlund 1 (Wd1), have been found in the Milky Way Galaxy. However, most have been observed in farther regions of the universe. In the galaxy M82 alone, 197 young SSCs have been observed and identified using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Galactic tide Tidal force experienced by objects subject to the gravitational field of a galaxy

A galactic tide is a tidal force experienced by objects subject to the gravitational field of a galaxy such as the Milky Way. Particular areas of interest concerning galactic tides include galactic collisions, the disruption of dwarf or satellite galaxies, and the Milky Way's tidal effect on the Oort cloud of the Solar System.

NGC 5466

NGC 5466 is a class XII globular cluster in the constellation Boötes. Located 51,800 light years from Earth and 52,800 light years from the galactic center, it was discovered by William Herschel on May 17, 1784, as H VI.9. This globular cluster is unusual insofar as it contains a certain blue horizontal branch of stars, as well as being unusually metal poor like ordinary globular clusters. It is thought to be the source of a stellar stream discovered in 2006, called the 45 Degree Tidal Stream. This star stream is an approximately 1.4° wide star lane extending from Boötes to Ursa Major.

NGC 6934

NGC 6934 is a globular cluster of stars in the northern constellation of Delphinus, about 52 kilolight-years distant from the Sun. It was discovered by the German-born astronomer William Herschel on 24 September 1785. The cluster is following a highly eccentric orbit through the Milky Way along an orbital plane that is inclined by 73° to the galactic plane. It may share a common dynamic origin with NGC 5466. As of 2018, it has been poorly studied.

NGC 1851

NGC 1851 is a relatively massive globular cluster located in the southern constellation of Columba. Astronomer John Dreyer described it as not very bright but very large, round, well resolved, and clearly consisting of stars. It is located 39.5 kilolight-years from the Sun, and 54.1 kilolight-years from the Galactic Center. The cluster is following a highly eccentric orbit through the galaxy, with an eccentricity of about 0.7

NGC 5286

NGC 5286 is a globular cluster of stars located some 35,900 light years away in the constellation Centaurus. At this distance, the light from the cluster has undergone reddening from interstellar gas and dust equal to E(B – V) = 0.24 magnitude in the UBV photometric system. The cluster lies 4 arc-minutes north of the naked-eye star M Centauri. It was discovered by Scottish astronomer James Dunlop, active in Australia, and listed in his 1827 catalog.

NGC 4147 Globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices

NGC 4147 is the New General Catalogue identifier for a globular cluster of stars in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. It was discovered by English astronomer William Herschel on March 14, 1784, who described it as "very bright, pretty large, gradually brighter in the middle". With an apparent visual magnitude of 10.7, it is located around 60,000 light years away from the Sun at a relatively high galactic latitude of 77.2°.

NGC 5053 Globular cluster in the constellation Coma Berenices

NGC 5053 is the New General Catalogue designation for a globular cluster in the northern constellation of Coma Berenices. It was discovered by German-British astronomer William Herschel on March 14, 1784 and cataloged as VI-7. In his abbreviated notation, he described it as, "an extremely faint cluster of extremely small stars with resolvable nebula 8 or 10′ diameter, verified by a power of 240, beyond doubt". Danish-Irish astronomer John Louis Emil Dreyer reported in 1888 that the cluster appeared, "very faint, pretty large, irregular round shape, growing very gradually brighter at the middle".

NGC 3256

NGC 3256 is a peculiar galaxy formed from the collision of two separate galaxies in the constellation of Vela. NGC 3256 is located about 100 million light years away and belongs to the Hydra-Centaurus supercluster complex. NGC 3256 provides a nearby template for studying the properties of young star clusters in tidal tails. The system hides a double nucleus and a tangle of dust lanes in the central region. The telltale signs of the collision are two extended luminous tails swirling out from the galaxy. The tails are studded with a particularly high density of star clusters. NGC 3256 is the most luminous galaxy in the infrared spectrum located within z 0.01 from Earth.

NGC 3311

NGC 3311 is a supergiant elliptical galaxy located about 190 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. The galaxy was discovered by astronomer John Herschel on March 30, 1835. NGC 3311 is the brightest member of the Hydra Cluster and forms a pair with NGC 3309 which along with NGC 3311, dominate the central region of the Hydra Cluster.


  1. Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Spitzer, Lyman, Jr.; Chevalier, Roger A. (September 1972). "On the Evolution of Globular Clusters". Astrophysical Journal . 176: L51. Bibcode:1972ApJ...176L..51O. doi:10.1086/181018.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. Lee, Hyung Mok (March 12–16, 2001). "The Life and Death of Globular Clusters". Written at Pucon, Chile. In D. Geisler; E.K. Grebel; D. Minniti (eds.). Extragalactic Star Clusters, IAU Symposium 207. San Francisco: Astronomical Society of the Pacific (published 2002). Bibcode:2002IAUS..207..584L.
  3. Zou, Hu; Wu, Zhen-Yu; Ma, Jun; Zhou, Xu (October 2009). "The tidal tails of globular cluster Palomar 5 based on the neural networks method". Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics. 9 (10): 1131–1148. arXiv: 0905.3614 . Bibcode:2009RAA.....9.1131Z. doi:10.1088/1674-4527/9/10/005. S2CID   8534666.
  4. Yim, Ki-Jeong; Lee, Hyung Mok (June 2002). "Tidal Tails of Globular Clusters". Journal of the Korean Astronomical Society. 35 (2): 75–85. Bibcode:2002JKAS...35...75Y. doi: 10.5303/jkas.2002.35.2.075 .