Relativistic Binaries in Globular Clusters

Matthew J. Benacquista 
University of Texas at Brownsville
Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy
80 Ft. Brown
Brownsville, TX 78520, U.S.A.

'External link'
Jonathan M. B. Downing 
Astronomisches Rechen-Institut
Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg
Mönchhofstraße 12-14
D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany

Major update of lrr-2006-2 (see article history and change log for details).


Galactic globular clusters are old, dense star systems typically containing 104 – 106 stars. As an old population of stars, globular clusters contain many collapsed and degenerate objects. As a dense population of stars, globular clusters are the scene of many interesting close dynamical interactions between stars. These dynamical interactions can alter the evolution of individual stars and can produce tight binary systems containing one or two compact objects. In this review, we discuss theoretical models of globular cluster evolution and binary evolution, techniques for simulating this evolution that leads to relativistic binaries, and current and possible future observational evidence for this population. Our discussion of globular cluster evolution will focus on the processes that boost the production of tight binary systems and the subsequent interaction of these binaries that can alter the properties of both bodies and can lead to exotic objects. Direct N-body integrations and Fokker–Planck simulations of the evolution of globular clusters that incorporate tidal interactions and lead to predictions of relativistic binary populations are also discussed. We discuss the current observational evidence for cataclysmic variables, millisecond pulsars, and low-mass X-ray binaries as well as possible future detection of relativistic binaries with gravitational radiation.

Keywords: accretion, accretion disks, astronomical observations, astronomy, astrophysics, binary systems, black holes, dynamical systems, gravitational wave sources, neutron stars, pulsars, radio astronomy, stars, white dwarfs

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