skip to main content

This content will become publicly available on April 1, 2023

Title: Gravitational Microlensing Rates in Milky Way Globular Clusters
Abstract Many recent observational and theoretical studies suggest that globular clusters (GCs) host compact object populations large enough to play dominant roles in their overall dynamical evolution. Yet direct detection, particularly of black holes and neutron stars, remains rare and limited to special cases, such as when these objects reside in close binaries with bright companions. Here we examine the potential of microlensing detections to further constrain these dark populations. Based on state-of-the-art GC models from the CMC Cluster Catalog , we estimate the microlensing event rates for black holes, neutron stars, white dwarfs (WDs), and, for comparison, also for M dwarfs in Milky Way GCs, as well as the effects of different initial conditions on these rates. Among compact objects, we find that WDs dominate the microlensing rates, simply because they largely dominate by numbers. We show that microlensing detections are in general more likely in GCs with higher initial densities, especially in clusters that undergo core collapse. We also estimate microlensing rates in the specific cases of M22 and 47 Tuc using our best-fitting models for these GCs. Because their positions on the sky lie near the rich stellar backgrounds of the Galactic bulge and the Small Magellanic more » Cloud, respectively, these clusters are among the Galactic GCs best suited for dedicated microlensing surveys. The upcoming 10 yr survey with the Rubin Observatory may be ideal for detecting lensing events in GCs. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
2001751
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10321860
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal
Volume:
928
Issue:
2
ISSN:
0004-637X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract The globular cluster 47 Tucanae (47 Tuc) is one of the most massive star clusters in the Milky Way and is exceptionally rich in exotic stellar populations. For several decades it has been a favorite target of observers, and yet it is computationally very challenging to model because of its large number of stars ( N ≳ 10 6 ) and high density. Here we present detailed and self-consistent 47 Tuc models computed with the Cluster Monte Carlo code ( CMC ). The models include all relevant dynamical interactions coupled to stellar and binary evolution, and reproduce various observations,more »including the surface brightness and velocity dispersion profiles, pulsar accelerations, and numbers of compact objects. We show that the present properties of 47 Tuc are best reproduced by adopting an initial stellar mass function that is both bottom-heavy and top-light relative to standard assumptions (as in, e.g., Kroupa 2001), and an initial Elson profile (Elson et al. 1987) that is overfilling the cluster’s tidal radius. We include new prescriptions in CMC for the formation of binaries through giant star collisions and tidal captures, and we show that these mechanisms play a crucial role in the formation of neutron star binaries and millisecond pulsars in 47 Tuc; our best-fit model contains ∼50 millisecond pulsars, 70% of which are formed through giant collisions and tidal captures. Our models also suggest that 47 Tuc presently contains up to ∼200 stellar-mass black holes, ∼5 binary black holes, ∼15 low-mass X-ray binaries, and ∼300 cataclysmic variables.« less
  2. Abstract We present the analysis of five black hole candidates identified from gravitational microlensing surveys. Hubble Space Telescope astrometric data and densely sampled light curves from ground-based microlensing surveys are fit with a single-source, single-lens microlensing model in order to measure the mass and luminosity of each lens and determine if it is a black hole. One of the five targets (OGLE-2011-BLG-0462/MOA-2011-BLG-191 or OB110462 for short) shows a significant >1 mas coherent astrometric shift, little to no lens flux, and has an inferred lens mass of 1.6–4.4 M ⊙ . This makes OB110462 the first definitive discovery of a compactmore »object through astrometric microlensing and it is most likely either a neutron star or a low-mass black hole. This compact-object lens is relatively nearby (0.70–1.92 kpc) and has a slow transverse motion of <30 km s −1 . OB110462 shows significant tension between models well fit to photometry versus astrometry, making it currently difficult to distinguish between a neutron star and a black hole. Additional observations and modeling with more complex system geometries, such as binary sources, are needed to resolve the puzzling nature of this object. For the remaining four candidates, the lens masses are <2 M ⊙ , and they are unlikely to be black holes; two of the four are likely white dwarfs or neutron stars. We compare the full sample of five candidates to theoretical expectations on the number of black holes in the Milky Way (∼10 8 ) and find reasonable agreement given the small sample size.« less
  3. Abstract We search for features in the mass distribution of detected compact binary coalescences which signify the transition between neutron stars (NSs) and black holes (BHs). We analyze all gravitational-wave (GW) detections by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the Virgo Collaboration, and the KAGRA Collaboration (LVK) made through the end of the first half of the third observing run, and find clear evidence for two different populations of compact objects based solely on GW data. We confidently (99.3%) find a steepening relative to a single power law describing NSs and low-mass BHs below 2.4 − 0.5 + 0.5 M ⊙ ,more »which is consistent with many predictions for the maximum NS mass. We find suggestions of the purported lower mass gap between the most massive NSs and the least massive BHs, but are unable to conclusively resolve it with current data. If it exists, we find the lower mass gap’s edges to lie at 2.2 − 0.5 + 0.7 M ⊙ and 6.0 − 1.4 + 2.4 M ⊙ . We reexamine events that have been deemed “exceptional” by the LVK collaborations in the context of these features. We analyze GW190814 self-consistently in the context of the full population of compact binaries, finding support for its secondary to be either a NS or a lower mass gap object, consistent with previous claims. Our models are the first to accommodate this event, which is an outlier with respect to the binary BH population. We find that GW200105 and GW200115 probe the edges of, and may have components within, the lower mass gap. As future data improve global population models, the classification of these events will also improve.« less
  4. As the closest example of a galactic nucleus, the Galactic center (GC) presents an exquisite laboratory for learning about supermassive black holes (SMBH) and their environment. We describe several exciting new research directions that, over the next 10 years, 1 arXiv:1903.05293v1 [astro-ph.GA] 13 Mar 2019 hold the potential to answer some of the biggest scientific questions raised in recent decades: Is General Relativity (GR) the correct description for supermassive black holes? What is the nature of star formation in extreme environments? How do stars and compact objects dynamically interact with the supermassive black hole? What physical processes drive gas accretionmore »in low-luminosity black holes? We describe how the high sensitivity, angular resolution, and astrometric precision offered by the next generation of large ground-based telescopes with adaptive optics will help us answer these questions. First, it will be possible to obtain precision measurements of stellar orbits in the Galaxy’s central potential, providing both tests of GR in the unexplored regime near a SMBH and measurements of the extended dark matter distribution that is predicted to exist at the GC. The orbits of these stars will also allow us to measure the spin of the SMBH. Second, we will probe stellar populations at the GC to significantly lower masses than are possible today, down to the brown dwarf limit. Their structure and dynamics will provide an unprecedented view of the stellar cusp around the SMBH and will distinguish between models of star formation in the extreme environment of galactic nuclei. This increase in depth will also allow us to measure the currently unknown population of compact remnants at the GC by observing their effects on luminous sources. Third, uncertainties on the mass of and distance to the SMBH can be improved by a factor of ∼10. Finally, we can also study the near-infrared accretion onto the black hole at unprecedented sensitivity and time resolution, which can reveal the underlying physics of black hole accretion.« less
  5. Abstract This supplement provides supporting material for Lam et al. We briefly summarize past gravitational microlensing searches for black holes (BHs) and present details of the observations, analysis, and modeling of five BH candidates observed with both ground-based photometric microlensing surveys and Hubble Space Telescope astrometry and photometry. We present detailed results for four of the five candidates that show no or low probability for the lens to be a BH. In these cases, the lens masses are <2 M ⊙ , and two of the four are likely white dwarfs or neutron stars. We also present detailed methods formore »comparing the full sample of five candidates to theoretical expectations of the number of BHs in the Milky Way (∼10 8 ).« less