Upper limits on central black hole masses of globular clusters from radio emission and a possible black hole detection in the Ursa Minor dwarf galaxy

Thomas J. Maccarone, Robert P. Fender, Anastasios K. Tzioumis

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35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) have been alternatively predicted to be quite common in the centres of globular clusters or nearly impossible to form and retain in the centres of globular clusters. As it has been recently shown that radio observations are currently the most sensitive observational technique for detecting such objects, we have obtained new deep radio observations of Omega Cen, and have reanalyzed older observations of M 15 in the hope of constraining the masses of possible black holes in their centres. In both cases, upper limits of about 100 μJy are found at GHz frequencies. We find that if the Bondi-Hoyle accretion rate truly represents the spherical accretion rate onto a black hole, then the masses of the black holes in the centres of these two galaxies are severely constrained - with mass limits of less than about 100 solar masses in both cases. If more realistic assumptions are made based on recent work showing the Bondi rate to be a severe overestimate, then the data for Omega Cen are marginally consistent with a black hole of about 1/1000 of the mass of the cluster (i.e. about 1000M). The data for M 15 are then only marginally consistent with previous reports of a ~2000 solar mass black hole, and we note that there is considerable hope for either detecting the black hole or improving this upper limit with current instrumentation. Finally, we discuss the possibility that the radio source near the core of the Ursa Minor dwarf spheroidal galaxy is a ~104-M black hole.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L17-L22
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Volume356
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2005

Keywords

  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • Black hole physics
  • Globular clusters: general
  • Globular clusters: individual: Omega Cen
  • Radio continuum: general

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