Luminosity function of low-mass X-ray binaries in the globular cluster system of NGC 1399
1 Physics Dept., University of Napoli Federico II, via Cinthia 9, 80126 Napoli, Italy
2 Physics Dept. “E.R. Caianiello”, University of Salerno, via Ponte Don Melillo, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
3 INFN, Gruppo collegato di Salerno, Sezione di Napoli, 84084 Fisciano, Italy
4 INFN – Sezione di Napoli, via Cinthia 9, 80126 Napoli, Italy
5 ASI Science Data Center, Via del Politecnico s/n, 00133 Rome, Italy
6 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, 60 Garden St., Cambridge MA 02138, USA
7 Institute of Astrophysics, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Avenida Vicuña Mackenna 4860, 782-0436 Macul, Santiago, Chile
8 Department of Physics, Texas Tech University, Box 41051, Lubbock TX 79409-1051, USA
9 School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
10 TIFR, Homi Bhabha Road, 400005 Mumbai, India
11 Eureka Scientific Inc., 2452 Delmer St, Suite 100, Oakland CA 94602, USA
12 Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore MD 21218, USA
13 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University, East Lansing MI 48824, USA
Received: 20 September 2013
Accepted: 2 May 2014
Aims. We present a study of the faint end of the X-ray luminosity function (XLF) of low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) in the Globular Cluster (GC) system of the cD galaxy NGC 1399.
Methods. We performed a stacking experiment on 618 X-ray undetected GCs, in order to verify the presence of faint LMXBs and to constrain the faint-end slope of the GC-LMXBs XLF below the individual detection threshold of 8 × 1037 erg s-1 in the 0.5 − 8 keV band.
Results. We obtain a significant X-ray detection for the whole GC sample, as well as for the red and blue GC subpopulations, corresponding to an average luminosity per GC ⟨ LX ⟩ GC of (3.6 ± 1.0) × 1036 erg s-1, (6.9 ± 2.1) × 1036 erg s-1, and (1.7 ± 0.9) × 1036 erg s-1, respectively, for all GCs, red GCs, and blue GCs. If LMXBs in red and blue GCs have the same average intrinsic luminosity, we derive a red/blue ratio ≃3 of GCs hosting LMXBs (2.5 ± 1.0 or 4.1 ± 2.5 depending on the surveyed region); alternatively, assuming the fractions observed for brighter sources, we measure an average X-ray luminosity of LX = (4.3 ± 1.3) × 1037 erg s-1 and LX = (3.4 ± 1.7) × 1037 erg s-1 per red and blue GC-LMXBs, respectively. In the assumption that the XLF follows a power-law distribution, we find that a low-luminosity break is required at LX ≤ 8 × 1037 erg s-1 both in the whole, as well as in the color-selected (red and blue) subsamples. Given the bright-end slopes measured above the X-ray completeness limit, this result is significant at >3σ level. Our best estimates for the faint-end slope are βL = −1.39/−1.38/−1.36 for all/red/blue GC-LMXBs. We also find evidence that the luminosity function becomes steeper at luminosities LX ≳ 3 × 1039 erg s-1, as observed in old ellipticals.
Conclusions. If most GCs host a single X-ray binary, we conclude that in NGC 1399 the XLF flattens at low luminosities as observed in other nearer galaxies, and we discuss some consequences of this flattening on LMXBs formation scenarios.
Key words: X-rays: binaries / X-rays: galaxies / galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD / galaxies: individual: NGC 1399
© ESO, 2014