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Photograph of Ross Church

Ross Church

Senior lecturer

Photograph of Ross Church

Formation Constraints Indicate a Black Hole Accretor in 47 Tuc X9


  • Ross P. Church
  • Jay Strader
  • Melvyn B. Davies
  • Alexey Bobrick

Summary, in English

The luminous X-ray binary 47 Tuc X9 shows radio and X-ray emission consistent with a stellar-mass black hole (BH) accreting from a carbon-oxygen white dwarf. Its location, in the core of the massive globular cluster 47 Tuc, hints at a dynamical origin. We assess the stability of mass transfer from a carbon-oxygen white dwarf onto compact objects of various masses, and conclude that for mass transfer to proceed stably, the accretor must, in fact, be a BH. Such systems can form dynamically by the collision of a stellar-mass BH with a giant star. Tidal dissipation of energy in the giant's envelope leads to a bound binary with a pericenter separation less than the radius of the giant. An episode of common-envelope evolution follows, which ejects the giant's envelope. We find that the most likely target is a horizontal-branch star, and that a realistic quantity of subsequent dynamical hardening is required for the resulting binary to merge via gravitational wave emission. Observing one binary like 47 Tuc X9 in the Milky Way globular cluster system is consistent with the expected formation rate. The observed 6.8-day periodicity in the X-ray emission may be driven by eccentricity induced in the ultra-compact X-ray binary's orbit by a perturbing companion.


  • Lund Observatory - Has been reorganised

Publishing year





Astrophysical Journal Letters





Document type

Journal article


IOP Publishing


  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • binaries: close
  • globular clusters: individual (47 Tuc)
  • stars: black holes
  • X-rays: binaries




  • ISSN: 2041-8205