A search for diffuse X-ray emission from GeV-detected Galactic globular clusters
P. Eger1 and W. Domainko2
Erlangen Centre for Astroparticle Physics, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erwin-Rommel-Str. 1, 91058 Erlangen, Germany
Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik, PO Box 103980, 69029 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 12 December 2011
Accepted: 13 February 2012
Context. Recently, diffuse and extended sources in TeV γ-rays as well as in X-rays have been detected in the direction of the Galactic globular cluster (GC) Terzan 5. Remarkably, this is among the brightest GCs detected in the GeV regime. The nature of either the TeV or the diffuse X-ray signal from Terzan 5 is not yet settled. These emissions most likely indicate the presence of several non-thermal radiation processes in addition to those that give rise to the GeV signal.
Aims. The aim of this work is to search for diffuse X-ray emission from all GeV-detected GCs where appropriate X-ray observations are available, and to compare the obtained results with the signal detected from Terzan 5. This study will help to determine whether Terzan 5 stands out among other GC or whether a whole population of globular clusters feature similar properties.
Methods. After assessing all archival X-ray observations of GeV detected GCs, we analyzed the data of six Chandra observations pointed toward M 62, NGC 6388, NGC 6541, M 28, M 80, and NGC 6139. For each GC we characterized the diffuse X-ray emission using the same analysis techniques as for Terzan 5. To study the emission on the same relative scales we used the half-mass radius as a scale parameter to determine the extent of the potential emission region.
Results. None of the six GCs show significant diffuse X-ray emission above the particle and diffuse Galactic X-ray background components. The derived upper limits allow to assess the validity of different models that were discussed in the interpretation of the multi-wavelength data of Terzan 5. A scenario based on synchrotron emission from relativistic leptons provided by the millisecond pulsar population cannot be securely rejected if a comparable magnetic field strength as in Terzan 5 is assumed for every GC. However, such a scenario seems to be unlikely for NGC 6388, and M 62. An inverse-Compton scenario relying on the presence of a putative GRB remnant with the same properties as proposed for Terzan 5 can be ruled out for all six GCs. Finally, the assumption that each GC hosts a source with the same luminosity as in Terzan 5 is ruled out for all GCs but NGC 6139.
Key words: globular clusters: general / acceleration of particles / radiation mechanisms: non-thermal / pulsars: general / X-rays: diffuse background / gamma-ray burst: general
© ESO, 2012