Institution(s): 1. University of Bonn
The possibility of the presence of large populations of stellar mass black holes (BHs) in star clusters has currently come into focus as an increasing number of BHs are being detected in globular clusters from X-ray and radio observations. By virtue of their ~10 times higher mass than the average stellar mass, these BHs strongly segregate towards the center of their parent star cluster. In that way they become dynamically highly active and potentially invoke a wide variety of physical phenomena; the most important ones being emission of gravitational waves (GWs), formation of X-ray binaries, and expansion of the cluster. However, closer to the Galactic center, a different manifestation of the BH population within a star cluster can take place. We propose, for the first time, that rapid removal of stars from the outer parts of a cluster by the strong tidal field in the inner region of our Galaxy can unveil its BH sub-cluster. The remaining system would apparently be a super-virial star cluster that is gravitationally held compact by an invisible mass. We study the formation and properties of such systems through direct N-body computations and estimate that they can be present in significant numbers (~100) in the inner region of the Milky Way. We call such objects “dark star clusters” (DSCs) as they appear dimmer than normal star clusters of similar total mass and they comprise a predicted, new class of entities. Dark Star Clusters are a natural outcome of star clusters’ evolution in a strong tidal field provided a substantial number of BHs (and neutron stars) are formed with low natal kicks and are retained in them. Hence, the discovery of DSCs will not only constrain the uncertain natal kicks of BHs, thereby scenarios of BH formation, but will also reassure star clusters as potential sites for GW emission for forthcoming ground-based detectors such as the Advanced LIGO. Finally, we discuss whether the Galactic-central IRS 13E can possibly be a DSC.