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The XMM-Newton SSC survey of the Galactic plane

Nebot Gómez-Morán, A.; Motch, C.; Barcons, X.; Carrera, F.J.; Ceballos, M.T.; Cropper, M.; Grosso, N.; Guillout, P.; Hérent, O.; Mateos, S.; Michel, L.; Osborne, J.P.; Pakull, M.; Pineau, F.-X.; Pye, J.P.; Roberts, T.P.; Rosen, S.R.; Schwope, A.D.; Watson, M.G.; Webb, N.

The XMM-Newton SSC survey of the Galactic plane Thumbnail


A. Nebot Gómez-Morán

C. Motch

X. Barcons

F.J. Carrera

M.T. Ceballos

M. Cropper

N. Grosso

P. Guillout

O. Hérent

S. Mateos

L. Michel

J.P. Osborne

M. Pakull

F.-X. Pineau

J.P. Pye

S.R. Rosen

A.D. Schwope

M.G. Watson

N. Webb


Many different classes of X-ray sources contribute to the Galactic landscape at high energies. Although the nature of the most luminous X-ray emitters is now fairly well understood, the population of low-to-medium X-ray luminosity (LX = 1027−34 erg   s-1) sources remains much less studied, our knowledge being mostly based on the observation of local members. The advent of wide field and high sensitivity X-ray telescopes such as XMM-Newton now offers the opportunity to observe this low-to-medium LX population at large distances. We report on the results of a Galactic plane survey conducted by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC). Beyond its astrophysical goals, this survey aims at gathering a representative sample of identified X-ray sources at low latitude that can be used later on to statistically identify the rest of the serendipitous sources discovered in the Milky Way. The survey is based on 26 XMM-Newton observations, obtained at | b | < 20 deg, distributed over a large range in Galactic longitudes and covering a summed area of 4 deg2. The flux limit of our survey is 2 × 10-15 erg   cm-2   s-1 in the soft (0.5–2 keV) band and 1 × 10-14 erg   cm-2   s-1 in the hard (2–12 keV) band. We detect a total of 1319 individual X-ray sources. Using optical follow-up observations supplemented by cross-correlation with a large range of multi-wavelength archival catalogues we identify 316 X-ray sources. This constitutes the largest group of spectroscopically identified low latitude X-ray sources at this flux level. The majority of the identified X-ray sources are active coronae with spectral types in the range A–M at maximum distances of ~1 kpc. The number of identified active starsincreases towards late spectral types, reaching a maximum at K. Using infrared colours we classify 18% of the stars as giants. The observed distributions of FX/FV, X-ray and infrared colours indicates that our sample is dominated by a young (100 Myr) to intermediate (600 Myr) age population with a small contribution of close main sequence or evolved binaries. We find other interesting objects such as cataclysmic variables (d ~ 0.6−2 kpc), low luminosity high mass stars (likely belonging to the class of γ-Cas-like systems, d ~ 1.5−7 kpc), T Tauri and Herbig-Ae stars. A handful of extragalactic sources located in the highest Galactic latitude fields could be optically identified. For the 20 fields observed with the EPIC pn camera, we have constructed log    N(>S) − log    S curves in the soft and hard bands. In the soft band, the majority of the sources are positively identified with active coronae and the fraction of stars increases by about one order of magnitude from b = 60° to b = 0° at an X-ray flux of 2 × 10-14 erg   cm-2   s-1. The hard band is dominated by extragalactic sources, but there is a small contribution from a hard Galactic population formed by CVs, HMXB candidates or γ-Cas-like systems and by some active coronae that are also detected in the soft band. At b = 0° the surface density of hard sources brighter than 1 × 10-13 erg   cm-2   s-1 steeply increases by one order of magnitude from l = 20° to the Galactic centre region (l = 0.9°).


Nebot Gómez-Morán, A., Motch, C., Barcons, X., Carrera, F., Ceballos, M., Cropper, M., …Webb, N. (2013). The XMM-Newton SSC survey of the Galactic plane. Astronomy & Astrophysics, 553, Article A12.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2013
Deposit Date Sep 11, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 17, 2014
Journal Astronomy and astrophysics.
Print ISSN 0004-6361
Electronic ISSN 1432-0746
Publisher EDP Sciences
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 553
Article Number A12
Keywords X-rays, Binaries, Stars, Surveys.


Published Journal Article (1.8 Mb)

Copyright Statement
Credit: Nebot Gómez-Morán, A., Motch, C., Barcons, X., Carrera, F.J., Ceballos, M.T., Cropper, M., Grosso, N., Guillout, P., Hérent, O., Mateos, S., Michel, L., Osborne, J.P., Pakull, M., Pineau, F.-X., Pye, J.P., Roberts, T.P.,<br /> Rosen, S.R., Schwope, A.D., Watson, M.G. and Webb, N., A&A 553, A12, 2013, reproduced with permission, © ESO.

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