Photospheric radius expansion X-ray bursts as standard candles Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • We examined the maximum bolometric peak luminosities during type I X-ray bursts from the persistent or transient luminous X-ray sources in globular clusters. We show that for about two thirds of the sources the maximum peak luminosities during photospheric radius expansion X-ray bursts extend to a critical value of (3.79+/-0.15)x10^{38} erg/s, assuming the total X-ray burst emission is entirely due to black-body radiation and the recorded maximum luminosity is the actual peak luminosity. This empirical critical luminosity is consistent with the Eddington luminosity limit for hydrogen poor material. Since the critical luminosity is more or less always reached during photospheric radius expansion X-ray bursts (except for one source), such bursts may be regarded as empirical standard candles. However, because significant deviations do occur, our standard candle is only accurate to within 15%. We re-evaluated the distances to the twelve globular clusters in which the X-ray bursters reside.

publication date

  • February 2003