Clues to globular cluster evolution from multiwavelength observations of extragalactic systems

Arunav Kundu, Thomas J. MacCarone, Stephen E. Zepf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present a study of the globular cluster (GC) systems of nearby elliptical and S0 galaxies at a variety of wavelengths from the X-ray to the infrared. Our analysis shows that roughly half of the low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), that are the luminous tracers of accreting neutron star or black hole systems, are in clusters. There is a surprisingly strong correlation between the LMXB frequency and the metallicity of the GCs, with metal-rich GCs hosting three times as many LMXBs as metal-poor ones, and no convincing evidence of a correlation with GC age so far. In some of the galaxies the LMXB formation rate varies with GC color even within the red peak of the typical bimodal cluster color distribution, providing some of the strongest evidence to date that there are metallicity variations within the metal-rich GC peak as is expected in a hierarchical galaxy formation scenario. We also note that any analysis of subtler variations in GC color distributions must carefully account for both statistical and systematic errors. We caution that some published GC correlations, such as the apparent blue-tilt or mass-metallicity effect might not have a physical origin and may be caused by systematic observational biases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)408-412
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Issue numberS246
StatePublished - Sep 2007


  • Blue-tilt
  • Globular cluster systems
  • Low mass X-ray binaries


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