Friday, June 21, 2013

1306.4825 (Andrew D. Sutton et al.)

A bright ultraluminous X-ray source in NGC 5907    [PDF]

Andrew D. Sutton, Timothy P. Roberts, Jeanette C. Gladstone, Sean A. Farrell, Emma Reilly, Michael R. Goad, Neil Gehrels
We present a multi-mission X-ray analysis of a bright (peak observed 0.3-10 keV luminosity of ~ 6x10^{40} erg s^{-1}), but relatively highly absorbed ULX in the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC 5907. The ULX is spectrally hard in X-rays (Gamma ~ 1.2-1.7, when fitted with an absorbed power-law), and has a previously-reported hard spectral break consistent with it being in the ultraluminous accretion state. It is also relatively highly absorbed for a ULX, with a column of ~ 0.4-0.9x10^{22} atom cm^{-2} in addition to the line-of-sight column in our Galaxy. Although its X-ray spectra are well represented by accretion disc models, its variability characteristics argue against this interpretation. The ULX spectra instead appear dominated by a cool, optically-thick Comptonising corona. We discuss how the measured 9 per cent rms variability and a hardening of the spectrum as its flux diminishes might be reconciled with the effects of a very massive, radiatively-driven wind, and subtle changes in the corona respectively. We speculate that the cool disc-like spectral component thought to be produced by the wind in other ULXs may be missing from the observed spectrum due to a combination of a low temperature (~ 0.1 keV), and the high column to the ULX. We find no evidence, other than its extreme X-ray luminosity, for the presence of an intermediate mass black hole (~ 10^2 - 10^4 Msun) in this object. Rather, the observations can be consistently explained by a massive (greater than ~ 20 Msun) stellar remnant black hole in a super-Eddington accretion state.
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