8th HEAD Meeting, 8-11 September, 2004
Session 29 X-ray Binaries
Oral, Friday, September 10, 2004, 2:00-3:30pm

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[29.05] Where are Low Mass X-ray Binaries Formed?

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

Chandra images of nearby galaxies reveal large numbers of low mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs). As in the Galaxy, a significant fraction of these are associated with globular clusters. We exploit the LMXB-globular cluster link in order to probe both the physical properties of globular clusters that promote the formation of LMXBs within clusters with specific characteristics, and to study whether the non-cluster field LMXB population was originally formed in clusters and then released into the field.

The large population of globular clusters around nearby galaxies and the range of properties such as age, metallicity and host galaxy environment spanned by these objects enables us to identify and probe the link between these characteristics and the formation of LMXBs. We present the results of our study of a large sample of elliptical and S0 galaxies which reveals among other things that bright LMXBs definitively prefer metal-rich cluster hosts and that this relationship is unlikely to be driven by age effects.

The ancestry of the non-cluster field LMXBs is a matter of some debate with suggestions that they they might have formed in the field, or created in globular clusters and then subsequently released into the field either by being ejected from clusters by dynamical processes or as remnants of dynamically destroyed clusters. Each of these scenarios has a specific spatial signature that can be tested by our combined optical and X-ray study. Furthermore, these scenarios predict additional statistical variations that may be driven by the specific host galaxy environment. We present a detailed analysis of our sample galaxies and comment on the probability that the field sources were actually formed in clusters.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.