Diffuse x-ray emission in globular cluster cores

C. Y. Hui, K. S. Cheng, Ronald E. Taam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The unresolved X-ray emission in the cores of 10 globular clusters hosting millisecond pulsars is investigated. Subtraction of the known resolved point sources leads to detectable levels of unresolved emission in the core region of M28, NGC 6440, M62, and NGC 6752. The X-ray luminosities in the 0.3-8 keV energy band of this emission component were found to lie in the range 1.5 × 1031erg s-1 (NGC 6752) to 2.2 × 1032 erg s-1 (M28). The lowest limiting luminosity for X-ray source detections amongst these four clusters was 1.1 × 1030 erg s-1 for NGC 6752. The spectrum of the unresolved emission can be fit equally well by a power law, a thermal bremsstrahlung model, a blackbody plus power law, or a thermal bremsstrahlung model plus blackbody component. The unresolved emission is considered to arise from the cumulative contribution of active binaries, cataclysmic variables, and faint millisecond pulsars with their associated pulsar wind nebulae. In examining the available X-ray data, no evidence for any pulsar wind nebular emission in globular clusters is found. It is shown that the X-ray luminosity contribution of a faint source population based on an extrapolation of the luminosity function of detected point sources is compatible with the unresolved X-ray emission in the cores of NGC 6440 and NGC 6752. Adopting the same slope for the luminosity function for M62 as for NGC 6440 and NGC 6752 leads to a similar result for M62. For M28, the contribution from faint sources in the core can attain a level comparable with the observed value if a steeper slope is adopted. The characteristics on the faint source population as constrained by the properties of the unresolved X-ray emission are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1233-1241
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Globular clusters: general
  • Pulsars: general
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: stars

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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