Mar 15 – 20, 2020
Europe/Berlin timezone

Intra-cluster X-ray Source Populations in Virgo and Fornax

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Meicun Hou (Nanjing University)


X-ray-emitting, close binary systems are among the first objects discovered in the X-ray sky and now understood to be ubiquitous in the Universe. As such, X-ray binaries can serve as a useful tool to study the evolution of their parent stellar populations, on scales from star clusters to galaxy clusters. We report observational evidence for the presence of intra-cluster X-ray sources that are not associated with the main stellar content of the individual galaxies nor with the cosmic X-ray background in the two nearest galaxy clusters, Virgo and Fornax, based primarily on archival Chandra observations. We discuss the origin of these sources, in terms of supernova-kicked low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs), LMXBs in globular clusters, LMXBs associated with the diffuse intra-cluster light, tidally-stripped nucleated dwarf galaxies and free-floating massive black holes. The discovery of intra-cluster X-ray sources opens a new avenue for studying the structural growth in galaxy clusters. With the large sky area of Virgo and Fornax, the all-sky survey by the eROSITA mission is expected to find at least 10 times more intracluster X-ray sources, which will form a statistically meaningful sample for exploring the physical properties and formation history of the ICL in the two clusters.

Primary author

Meicun Hou (Nanjing University)


Zhiyuan Li (Nanjing University) Eric Peng (Peking University) Chengze Liu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University)

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