The HST Large Programme on ω Centauri. III. Absolute Proper Motion

Mattia Libralato, Andrea Bellini, Luigi R. Bedin, Moreno D. Edmundo, José G. Fernández-Trincado, Barbara Pichardo, Roeland P.Van Der Marel, Jay Anderson, Dániel Apai, Adam J. Burgasser, Anna Fabiola Marino, Antonino P. Milone, Jon M. Rees, Laura L. Watkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


In this paper, we report a new estimate of the absolute proper motion (PM) of the globular cluster NGC 5139 (ω Cen) as part of the HST large program GO-14118+14662. We analyzed a field 17 arcmin southwest of the center of ω Cen and computed PMs with epoch spans of ∼15.1 years. We employed 45 background galaxies to link our relative PMs to an absolute reference-frame system. The absolute PM of the cluster in our field is (μα cosσ, μσ) = (-3.341 ± 0.028, -6.557 ± 0.043) mas yr-1. Upon correction for the effects of viewing perspective and the known cluster rotation, this implies that for the cluster center of mass (μα cosσ, μσ) = (-3.238 ± 0.028, -6716 ± 0.043) mas yr-1. This measurement is direct and independent, has the highest random and systematic accuracy to date, and will provide an external verification for the upcoming Gaia Data Release 2. It also differs from most reported PMs for ω Cen in the literature by more than 5σ, but consistency checks compared to other recent catalogs yield excellent agreement. We computed the corresponding Galactocentric velocity, calculated the implied orbit of ω Cen in two different Galactic potentials, and compared these orbits to the orbits implied by one of the PM measurements available in the literature. We find a larger (by about 500 pc) perigalactic distance for ω Cen with our new PM measurement, suggesting a larger survival expectancy for the cluster in the Galaxy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number45
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2018


  • Galaxy: kinematics and dynamics
  • astrometry
  • globular clusters: individual (NGC 5139 (w Cen))
  • proper motions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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