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Title: DO INTERMEDIATE-MASS BLACK HOLES EXIST IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS?

Abstract

The existence of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in globular clusters (GCs) remains a crucial problem. Searching for IMBHs in GCs reveals a discrepancy between radio observations and dynamical modelings: the upper mass limits constrained by radio observations are systematically lower than that of dynamical modelings. One possibility for such a discrepancy is that, as we suggest in this work, there exist outflows in accretion flows. Our results indicate that, for most sources, current radio observations cannot rule out the possibility that IMBHs may exist in GCs. In addition, we adopt an M-dot -L{sub R} relation to revisit this issue, which confirms the results obtained by the fundamental plane relation.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ;  [1]
  1. Department of Astronomy and Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics, Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian 361005 (China)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22270802
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 776; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCRETION DISKS; ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; BLACK HOLES; MASS; STAR CLUSTERS

Citation Formats

Sun, Mou-Yuan, Jin, Ya-Ling, Gu, Wei-Min, Liu, Tong, Lin, Da-Bin, and Lu, Ju-Fu, E-mail: guwm@xmu.edu.cn. DO INTERMEDIATE-MASS BLACK HOLES EXIST IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS?. United States: N. p., 2013. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/776/2/118.
Sun, Mou-Yuan, Jin, Ya-Ling, Gu, Wei-Min, Liu, Tong, Lin, Da-Bin, & Lu, Ju-Fu, E-mail: guwm@xmu.edu.cn. DO INTERMEDIATE-MASS BLACK HOLES EXIST IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS?. United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/776/2/118.
Sun, Mou-Yuan, Jin, Ya-Ling, Gu, Wei-Min, Liu, Tong, Lin, Da-Bin, and Lu, Ju-Fu, E-mail: guwm@xmu.edu.cn. Sun . "DO INTERMEDIATE-MASS BLACK HOLES EXIST IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS?". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/776/2/118.
@article{osti_22270802,
title = {DO INTERMEDIATE-MASS BLACK HOLES EXIST IN GLOBULAR CLUSTERS?},
author = {Sun, Mou-Yuan and Jin, Ya-Ling and Gu, Wei-Min and Liu, Tong and Lin, Da-Bin and Lu, Ju-Fu, E-mail: guwm@xmu.edu.cn},
abstractNote = {The existence of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in globular clusters (GCs) remains a crucial problem. Searching for IMBHs in GCs reveals a discrepancy between radio observations and dynamical modelings: the upper mass limits constrained by radio observations are systematically lower than that of dynamical modelings. One possibility for such a discrepancy is that, as we suggest in this work, there exist outflows in accretion flows. Our results indicate that, for most sources, current radio observations cannot rule out the possibility that IMBHs may exist in GCs. In addition, we adopt an M-dot -L{sub R} relation to revisit this issue, which confirms the results obtained by the fundamental plane relation.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-637X/776/2/118},
journal = {Astrophysical Journal},
number = 2,
volume = 776,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Oct 20 00:00:00 EDT 2013},
month = {Sun Oct 20 00:00:00 EDT 2013}
}
  • Spectroscopic and photometric observations show that many globular clusters host multiple stellar populations, challenging the common paradigm that globular clusters are 'simple stellar populations' composed of stars of uniform age and chemical composition. The chemical abundances of second-generation (SG) stars constrain the sources of gas out of which these stars must have formed, indicating that the gas must contain matter processed through the high-temperature CNO cycle. First-generation massive asymptotic giant branch (AGB) stars have been proposed as the source of this gas. In a previous study, by means of hydrodynamical and N-body simulations, we have shown that the AGB ejectamore » collect in a cooling flow in the cluster core, where the gas reaches high densities, ultimately forming a centrally concentrated subsystem of SG stars. In this Letter, we show that the high gas density can also lead to significant accretion onto a pre-existing seed black hole. We show that gas accretion can increase the black hole mass by up to a factor of 100. The details of the gas dynamics are important in determining the actual black hole growth. Assuming a near-universal seed black hole mass and small cluster-to-cluster variations in the duration of the SG formation phase, the outcome of our scenario is one in which the present intermediate-mass black hole (IMBH) mass may have only a weak dependence on the current cluster properties. The scenario presented provides a natural mechanism for the formation of an IMBH at the cluster center during the SG star formation phase.« less
  • With a goal of searching for accreting intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs), we report the results of ultra-deep Jansky Very Large Array radio continuum observations of the cores of three Galactic globular clusters: M15, M19, and M22. We reach rms noise levels of 1.5-2.1 {mu}Jy beam{sup -1} at an average frequency of 6 GHz. No sources are observed at the center of any of the clusters. For a conservative set of assumptions about the properties of the accretion, we set 3{sigma} upper limits on IMBHs from 360 to 980 M{sub Sun }. These limits are among the most stringent obtained formore » any globular cluster. They add to a growing body of work that suggests either (1) IMBHs {approx}> 1000 M{sub Sun} are rare in globular clusters or (2) when present, IMBHs accrete in an extraordinarily inefficient manner.« less
  • Decades after the first predictions of intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in globular clusters (GCs) there is still no unambiguous observational evidence for their existence. The most promising signatures for IMBHs are found in the cores of GCs, where the evidence now comes from the stellar velocity distribution, the surface density profile, and, for very deep observations, the mass-segregation profile near the cluster center. However, interpretation of the data, and, in particular, constraints on central IMBH masses, require the use of detailed cluster dynamical models. Here we present results from Monte Carlo cluster simulations of GCs that harbor IMBHs. As anmore » example of application, we compare velocity dispersion, surface brightness and mass-segregation profiles with observations of the GC M10, and constrain the mass of a possible central IMBH in this cluster. We find that, although M10 does not seem to possess a cuspy surface density profile, the presence of an IMBH with a mass up to 0.75% of the total cluster mass, corresponding to about 600 M{sub Sun }, cannot be excluded. This is also in agreement with the surface brightness profile, although we find it to be less constraining, as it is dominated by the light of giants, causing it to fluctuate significantly. We also find that the mass-segregation profile cannot be used to discriminate between models with and without IMBH. The reason is that M10 is not yet dynamically evolved enough for the quenching of mass segregation to take effect. Finally, detecting a velocity dispersion cusp in clusters with central densities as low as in M10 is extremely challenging, and has to rely on only 20-40 bright stars. It is only when stars with masses down to 0.3 M{sub Sun} are included that the velocity cusp is sampled close enough to the IMBH for a significant increase above the core velocity dispersion to become detectable.« less
  • Globular clusters should be born with significant numbers of stellar-mass black holes (BHs). It has been thought for two decades that very few of these BHs could be retained through the cluster lifetime. With masses {approx}10 M{sub Sun }, BHs are {approx}20 times more massive than an average cluster star. They segregate into the cluster core, where they may eventually decouple from the remainder of the cluster. The small-N core then evaporates on a short timescale. This is the so-called Spitzer instability. Here we present the results of a full dynamical simulation of a globular cluster containing many stellar-mass BHsmore » with a realistic mass spectrum. Our Monte Carlo simulation code includes detailed treatments of all relevant stellar evolution and dynamical processes. Our main finding is that old globular clusters could still contain many BHs at present. In our simulation, we find no evidence for the Spitzer instability. Instead, most of the BHs remain well mixed with the rest of the cluster, with only the innermost few tens of BHs segregating significantly. Over the 12 Gyr evolution, fewer than half of the BHs are dynamically ejected through strong binary interactions in the cluster core. The presence of BHs leads to long-term heating of the cluster, ultimately producing a core radius on the high end of the distribution for Milky Way globular clusters (and those of other galaxies). A crude extrapolation from our model suggests that the BH-BH merger rate from globular clusters could be comparable to the rate in the field.« less
  • Surface photometry is a necessary tool to establish the dynamical state of star clusters. We produce realistic HST-like images from N-body models of star clusters with and without central intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in order to measure their surface brightness profiles. The models contain {approx}600,000 individual stars, black holes of various masses between 0% and 2% of the total mass, and are evolved for Hubble time. We measure surface brightness and star count profiles for every constructed image in order to test the effect of IMBHs on the central logarithmic slope, the core radius, and the half-light radius. We usemore » these quantities to test diagnostic tools for the presence of central black holes using photometry. We find that the only models that show central shallow cusps with logarithmic slopes between -0.1 and -0.4 are those containing central black holes. Thus, the central logarithmic slope seems to be a good way to choose clusters suspected of containing IMBHs. Clusters with steep central cusps can definitely be ruled out to host an IMBH. The measured r{sub c} /r{sub h} ratio has similar values for clusters that have not undergone core-collapse and those containing a central black hole. We note that observed Galactic globular clusters have a larger span of values for central slope and r{sub c} /r{sub h} than our modeled clusters, and suggest possible reasons that could account for this and contribute to improved future models.« less