AAS 203rd Meeting, January 2004
Session 31 X-ray Observations
Oral, Monday, January 5, 2004, 2:00-3:30pm, Centennial III

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[31.04] Low Mass X-ray Binaries and the Globular Cluster Connection

A. Kundu (Michigan State Univ.), T. J. Maccarone (Univ. of Amsterdam), S. E. Zepf (Michigan State Univ.)

Chandra observations reveal large numbers of low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) around distant galaxies. A disproportionately large fraction of these (roughly half in early type galaxies) are in globular clusters suggesting that, as in the Milky Way, dynamical processes in clusters are especially efficient at LMXB creation. We present the results of our optical and X-ray studies of LMXBs that probe the formation and evolution of LMXBs in globular clusters and the field. We also exploit the constraints on the physical characteristics of the globular cluster hosts of LMXBs, such as metallicity and age of the underlying stellar system, to probe the effects on the X-ray properties of LMXBs. The simple stellar systems of globular clusters provide a unique environment to search for and understand such effects which are likely to be applicable to LMXBs everywhere.

One of the striking results of our study is that LMXBs are approximately three times more likely to form in metal-rich globular clusters than in metal-poor ones, an effect that has been confirmed in multiple galaxies. We suggest a possible theoretical explanation for this effect and predict the observational consequences on other properties of LMXBs.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35#5
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.