No evidence for a central IMBH in M15
Journal article, 2012

Intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs) with expected masses M. approximate to 10(4) M-circle dot are thought to bridge the gap between stellar mass black holes ( M. approximate to 3-100 M-circle dot) and supermassive black holes found at the centre of galaxies ( M. > 10(6) M-circle dot). Until today, no IMBH has been confirmed observationally. The most promising objects to host an IMBH as their central mass are globular clusters. Here, we present high sensitivity multi-epoch 1.6 GHz very long baseline interferometry observations of the globular cluster M15 that has been suggested to host an IMBH. Assuming the IMBH to be accreting matter from its surrounding we expect to detect it as a point source moving with the global motion of the cluster. However, we do not detect any such object within a radius of 6000 AU of the cluster centre in any of the five observations spread over more than one year. This rules out any variability of the putative IMBH on the time scale of one to two months. To get the most stringent upper limit for the flux density of the putative IMBH we concatenate the data of all five epochs. In this data we measure a 3 sigma upper flux limit of 10 mu Jy for a central source. We employ the fundamental plane of black hole activity to estimate the mass of the central IMBH candidate. Based on previous X-ray observations of M15 our measurements indicate a 3 sigma upper mass limit of approximate to 500 M-circle dot.


black hole physics


fundamental plane

globular-cluster m15

dynamical models


mass black-holes



x-ray sources

globular clusters: individual: M15 (NGC 7078)

techniques: interferometric

advection-dominated accretion


F. Kirsten

University of Bonn

Max Planck Society

Wouter Vlemmings

Chalmers, Earth and Space Sciences, Radio Astronomy and Astrophysics

Astronomy and Astrophysics

0004-6361 (ISSN) 1432-0746 (eISSN)

Vol. 542 A44

Advanced Radio Astronomy in Europe (RADIONET-FP7)

European Commission (EC) (EC/FP7/227290), 2009-01-01 -- 2012-06-30.

Subject Categories

Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


Basic sciences


Onsala Space Observatory



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