HST spectrum and timing of the ultracompact X-ray binary candidate 47 Tuc X9

V. Tudor, J. C.A. Miller-Jones, C. Knigge, T. J. Maccarone, T. M. Tauris, A. Bahramian, L. Chomiuk, C. O. Heinke, G. R. Sivakoff, J. Strader, R. M. Plotkin, R. Soria, M. D. Albrow, G. E. Anderson, M. van den Berg, F. Bernardini, S. Bogdanov, C. T. Britt, D. M. Russell, D. R. Zurek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To confirm the nature of the donor star in the ultracompact X-ray binary candidate 47 Tuc X9, we obtained optical spectra (3000-10 000 Å) with the Hubble Space Telescope/Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph. We find no strong emission or absorption features in the spectrum of X9. In particular, we place 3σ upper limits on the Hα and He II λ4686 emission line equivalent widths - EW ≲ 14Å and -EWHe II ≲ 9Å, respectively. This is much lower than seen for typical X-ray binaries at a similar X-ray luminosity (which, for L2-10 keV ≈ 1033-1034 erg s-1 is typically -EW ~ 50 Å). This supports our previous suggestion, by Bahramian et al., of an H-poor donor in X9. We perform timing analysis on archival farultraviolet, V- and I-band data to search for periodicities. In the optical bands, we recover the 7-d superorbital period initially discovered in X-rays, but we do not recover the orbital period. In the far-ultraviolet, we find evidence for a 27.2 min period (shorter than the 28.2 min period seen in X-rays). We find that either a neutron star or black hole could explain the observed properties of X9. We also perform binary evolution calculations, showing that the formation of an initial black hole/He-star binary early in the life of a globular cluster could evolve into a present-day system such as X9 (should the compact object in this system indeed be a black hole) via mass-transfer driven by gravitational wave radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1889-1908
Number of pages20
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 11 2018


  • Accretion
  • Accretion discs
  • Stars: black holes
  • Stars: neutron
  • X-rays: binaries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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