Jonathan Downing and Matthew Benacquista
Galactic globular clusters are old, dense star systems typically containing 10^4–10^7 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 theoretical models of globular cluster evolution and binary evolution, techniques for simulating this evolution that leads to relativistic binaries, and current and possible future observational evidence for this population. Our discussion of globular cluster evolution will focus on the processes that boost the production of hard binary systems and the subsequent interaction of these binaries that can alter the properties 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.