VVV survey observations of a microlensing stellar mass black hole candidate in the field of the globular cluster NGC 6553

D. Minniti, R. Contreras Ramos, J. Alonso-García, T. Anguita, M. Catelan, F. Gran, V. Motta, G. Muro, K. Rojas, R. K. Saito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We report the discovery of a large timescale candidate microlensing event of a bulge stellar source based on nearinfrared observations with the VISTA Variables in the Vía Láctea Survey (VVV). The new microlensing event is projected only 3.5 arcmin away from the center of the globular cluster NGC 6553. The source appears to be a bulge giant star with magnitude Ks = 13.52, based on the position in the colormagnitude diagram. The foreground lens may be located in the globular cluster, which has well-known parameters such as distance and proper motions. If the lens is a cluster member, we can directly estimate its mass simply following Paczynski which is a modified version of the more general case due to Refsdal. In that case, the lens would be a massive stellar remnant, with M = 1.53.5M. If the blending fraction of the microlensing event appears to be small, and this lens would represent a good isolated black hole (BH) candidate, that would be the oldest BH known. Alternative explanations (with a larger blending fraction) also point to a massive stellar remnant if the lens is located in the Galactic disk and does not belong to the globular cluster.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL20
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume810
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sep 2015

Keywords

  • globular clusters: individual (NGC 6553)
  • gravitational lensing: micro
  • infrared: stars
  • surveys

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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