Spatially Resolved Spectroscopy of the Globular Cluster RZ 2109 and the Nature of its Black Hole

Mark B. Peacock, Stephen E Zepf, Arunav Kundu, Thomas Maccarone, Katherine L. Rhode, John J. Salzer, Christopher Z Waters, Robin Ciardullo, Caryl Gronwall, Daniel Stern

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Abstract

We present optical Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (HST/STIS) spectroscopy of RZ 2109, a globular cluster (GC) in the elliptical galaxy NGC 4472. This GC is notable for hosting an ultraluminous X-ray source as well as associated strong and broad [O III] λλ4959, 5007 emission. We show that the HST/STIS spectroscopy spatially resolves the [O III] emission in RZ 2109. While we are unable to make a precise determination of the morphology of the emission-line nebula, the best-fitting models all require that the [O III] λ5007 emission has a half-light radius in the range 3-7 pc. The extended nature of the [O III] λ5007 emission is inconsistent with published models that invoke an intermediate-mass black hole origin. It is also inconsistent with the ionization of ejecta from a nova in the cluster. The spatial scale of the nebula could be produced via the photoionization of a strong wind driven from a stellar mass black hole accreting at roughly its Eddington rate.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126
JournalAstrophysical Journal
StatePublished - Nov 2012

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    Peacock, M. B., Zepf, S. E., Kundu, A., Maccarone, T., Rhode, K. L., Salzer, J. J., Waters, C. Z., Ciardullo, R., Gronwall, C., & Stern, D. (2012). Spatially Resolved Spectroscopy of the Globular Cluster RZ 2109 and the Nature of its Black Hole. Astrophysical Journal, 126.