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The Birth of an Ultra-Luminous X-ray Source in M83

Soria, Roberto ; Kuntz, K. D. ; Winkler, P. Frank ; Blair, William P. ; Long, Knox S. ; Plucinsky, Paul P. ; Whitmore, Bradley C.

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  • Title:
    The Birth of an Ultra-Luminous X-ray Source in M83
  • Author: Soria, Roberto ; Kuntz, K. D. ; Winkler, P. Frank ; Blair, William P. ; Long, Knox S. ; Plucinsky, Paul P. ; Whitmore, Bradley C.
  • Description: A previously undetected X-ray source (L_X<10**36 erg/s) in the strongly star-forming galaxy M83 entered an ultraluminous state between August 2009 and December 2010. It was first seen with Chandra on 23 December 2010 at L_X ~ 4 10**39 ergs/s, and has remained ultraluminous through our most recent observations in December 2011, with typical flux variation of a factor of two. The spectrum is well fitted by a combination of absorbed power-law and disk black-body models. While the relative contributions of the models varies with time, we have seen no evidence for a canonical state transition. The luminosity and spectral properties are consistent with accretion powered by a black hole with M_BH ~ 40-100 solar masses. In July 2011 we found a luminous, blue optical counterpart which had not been seen in deep HST observations obtained in August 2009. These optical observations suggest that the donor star is a low-mass star undergoing Roche-lobe overflow, and that the blue optical emission seen during the outburst is coming from an irradiated accretion disk. This source shows that ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) with low-mass companions are an important component of the ULX population in star-forming galaxies, and provides further evidence that the blue optical counterparts of some ULXs need not indicate a young, high-mass companion, but rather that they may indicate X-ray reprocessing. Comment: 40 pages, 7 figures, accepted for publication in ApJ
  • Identifier: Arxiv ID: 1203.2335
  • Subjects: Astrophysics - High Energy Astrophysical Phenomena ; Astrophysics - Astrophysics Of Galaxies
  • Source: Cornell University

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