An extensive census of Hubble Space Telescope counterparts to Chandra X-ray sources in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. I. Astrometry and photometry

Peter D. Edmonds, Ronald L. Gilliland, Craig O. Heinke, Jonathan E. Grindlay

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94 Scopus citations


We report in this study of 47 Tucanae the largest number of optical identifications of X-ray sources yet obtained in a single globular cluster. Using deep Chandra ACIS-I imaging and extensive Hubble Space Telescope studies with Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2; including a 120 orbit program giving superb V and I images), we have detected optical counterparts to at least 22 cataclysmic variables (CVs) and 29 chromospherically active binaries (BY Dra and RS CVn systems) in 47 Tuc. These identifications are all based on tight astrometric matches between X-ray sources and objects with unusual (non-main-sequence [non-MS]) optical colors and/or optical variability. Several other CVs and active binaries have likely been found, but these have marginal significance because of larger offsets between the X-ray and optical positions, or colors and variability that are not statistically convincing. These less secure optical identifications are not subsequently discussed in detail. In the U versus U - V color-magnitude diagram (CMD), where the U band corresponds to either F336W or F300W, the CVs all show evidence for blue colors compared with the MS, but most of them fall close to the main sequence in the V versus V - I CMD, showing that the secondary stars dominate the optical light. The X-ray-detected active binaries have magnitude offsets above the MS (in both the U versus U - V or V versus V - I CMDs) that are indistinguishable from those of the much larger sample of optical variables (eclipsing and contact binaries and BY Dra variables) detected in the recent WFPC2 studies of Albrow et al. We also present the results of a new, deeper search for optical companions to millisecond pulsars (MSPs). One possible optical companion to an MSP (47 Tuc T) was found, adding to the two optical companions already known. Finally, we study several blue stars with periodic variability from Albrow et al. that show little or no evidence for X-ray emission. The optical colors of these objects differ from those of 47 Tuc (and field) CVs. An accompanying paper will present time series results for these optical identifications and will discuss X-ray-to-optical flux ratios, spatial distributions, and an overall interpretation of the results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1177-1196
Number of pages20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Oct 20 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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