We adopt the fluid conduction approximation to study the evolution of spherical star clusters and self-interacting dark matter (SIDM) halos. We also explore the formation and dynamical impact of density cusps that arise in both systems due to the presence of a massive, central black hole. The large N-body, self-gravitating systems we treat are "weakly collisional": the mean free time between star or SIDM particle collisions is much longer than their characteristic crossing (dynamical) time scale, but shorter than the system lifetime. The fluid conduction model reliably tracks the "gravothermal catastrope" in star clusters and SIDM halos without black holes. For a star cluster with a massive, central black hole, this approximation reproduces the familiar Bahcall-Wolf quasistatic density cusp for the stars bound to the black hole and shows how the cusp halts the "gravothermal catastrophe" and causes the cluster to re-expand. An SIDM halo with an initial black hole central density spike that matches onto to an exterior NFW profile relaxes to a core-halo structure with a central density cusp determined by the velocity dependence of the SIDM interaction cross section. The success and relative simplicity of the fluid conduction approach in evolving such "weakly collisional," quasiequilibrium Newtonian systems motivates its extension to relativistic systems. We present a general relativistic extension here.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)