Limits on [O III] 5007 emission from NGC 4472'S globular clusters: Constraints on planetary nebulae and ultraluminous black hole X-ray binaries in globular clusters

Mark B. Peacock, Stephen E. Zepf, Thomas J. MacCarone

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Abstract

We have searched for [O III] 5007 emission in high-resolution spectroscopic data from FLAMES/GIRAFFE Very Large Telescope observations of 174 massive globular clusters (GCs) in NGC4472. No planetary nebulae (PNe) are observed in these clusters, constraining the number of PNe per bolometric luminosity, α < 0.8 × 10-7 PN/L. This is significantly lower than the rate predicted from stellar evolution, if all stars produce PNe. Comparing our results to populations of PNe in galaxies, we find most galaxies have a higher α than these GCs (more PNe per bolometric luminosity - though some massive early-type galaxies do have similarly low α). The low α required in these GCs suggests that the number of PNe per bolometric luminosity does not increase strongly with decreasing mass or metallicity of the stellar population. We find no evidence for correlations between the presence of known GC PNe and either the presence of low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) or the stellar interaction rates in the GCs. This, and the low α observed, suggests that the formation of PNe may not be enhanced in tight binary systems. These data do identify one [O III] emission feature, this is the (previously published) broad [O III] emission from the cluster RZ 2109. This emission is thought to originate from the LMXB in this cluster, which is accreting at super-Eddington rates. The absence of any similar [O III] emission from the other clusters favors the hypothesis that this source is a black hole LMXB, rather than a neutron star LMXB with significant geometric beaming of its X-ray emission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number90
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume752
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 20 2012

Keywords

  • galaxies: stellar content
  • globular clusters: general
  • stars: AGB and post-AGB
  • stars: evolution

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