Globular clusters as a dynamical probe of dark matter

Kfir Blum
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Gravitational dynamical friction affecting the orbits of globular clusters (GCs) was studied extensively as a possible formation mechanism for nuclear star clusters in galaxies. In well-known examples that showcase this phenomenon, like the Milky Way and M31 galaxies, the medium which affects the dynamical friction is dominated by bulge stars. In comparison, the case for dynamical friction in dark matter-dominated systems is much less clear. A puzzling example is the Fornax dwarf galaxy, where the observed positions of GCs have long been suspected to pose a challenge for dark matter, dynamical friction theory, or both. We search for additional systems that are dark matter-dominated and contain a rich population of GCs, offering a test of the mechanism. A possible example is the ultra diffuse galaxy NGC5846-UDG1: we show that GC photometry in this galaxy provide evidence for the imprint of dynamical friction, visible via mass segregation. If confirmed by future analyses of more GC-rich UDG systems, these observations could provide a novel perspective on the nature of dark matter.