DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stae294 ISSN: 0035-8711

ω Centauri: A MUSE discovery of a counter-rotating core

Renuka Pechetti, Sebastian Kamann, Davor Krajnović, Anil Seth, Glenn van de Ven, Nadine Neumayer, Stefan Dreizler, Peter M Weilbacher, Sven Martens, Florence Wragg
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


ω Centauri is considered the most massive globular cluster of the Milky Way and likely the former nuclear star cluster of a galaxy accreted by the Milky Way. It is speculated to contain an intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) from several dynamical models. However, uncertainties regarding the location of the cluster center or the retention of stellar remnants limit the robustness of the IMBH detections reported so far. In this paper, we derive and study the stellar kinematics from the highest-resolution spectroscopic data yet, using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) in the narrow field mode (NFM) and wide field mode (WFM). Our exceptional data near the center reveal for the first time that stars within the inner 20″ (∼0.5 pc) counter-rotate relative to the bulk rotation of the cluster. Using this dataset, we measure the rotation and line-of-sight velocity dispersion (LOSVD) profile out to 120″ with different centers proposed in the literature. We find that the velocity dispersion profiles using different centers match well with those previously published. Based on the counter–rotation, we determine a kinematic center and look for any signs of an IMBH using the high-velocity stars close to the center. We do not find any significant outliers >60 km s−1 within the central 20″, consistent with no IMBH being present at the center of ω Centauri. A detailed analysis of Jeans’ modeling of the putative IMBH will be presented in the next paper of the series.

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