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Physics  2002 

Relativistic Binaries in Globular Clusters

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Abstract:

The galactic population of globular clusters are old, dense star systems, with a typical cluster containing $10^4 - 10^6$ stars. As an old population of stars, globular clusters contain many collapsed and degenerate objects. As a dense population of stars, globular clusters are the scene of many interesting close dynamical interactions between stars. These dynamical interactions can alter the evolution of individual stars and can produce tight binary systems containing one or two compact objects. In this review, we discuss the theoretical models of globular cluster evolution and binary evolution, techniques for simulating this evolution which lead to relativistic binaries, and current and possible future observational evidence for this population. Globular cluster evolution will focus on the properties that boost the production of hard binary systems and on the tidal interactions of the galaxy with the cluster, which tend to alter the structure of the globular cluster with time. The interaction of the components of hard binary systems alters the evolution of both bodies and can lead to exotic objects. Direct $N$-body integrations and Fokker-Planck simulations of the evolution of globular clusters that incorporate tidal interactions and lead to predictions of relativistic binary populations are also discussed. We discuss the current observational evidence for cataclysmic variables, millisecond pulsars, and low-mass X-ray binaries as well as possible future detection of relativistic binaries with gravitational radiation.

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