The missing link: a low mass X-ray binary in M31 seen as an ultraluminous X-ray source
Middleton, M.J.; Sutton, A.D.; Roberts, T.P.; Jackson, F.E.; Done, C.
Professor Tim Roberts email@example.com
Professor Christine Done firstname.lastname@example.org
A new, transient ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) was recently discovered by Chandra in M31 with a luminosity at ∼5 × 1039 erg s−1. Here we analyse a series of five subsequent XMM–Newton observations. These show a steady decline in X-ray luminosity over 1.5 months, from 1.8 × 1039 to 0.6 × 1039 erg s−1, giving an observed e-fold time-scale of ∼40 d. This is similar to the decay time-scales seen in multiple soft X-ray transients in our own Galaxy, supporting the interpretation of this ULX as a stellar mass black hole in a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB), accreting at super-Eddington rates. This is further supported by the lack of detection of an O/B star in quiescence and the spectral behaviour of the XMM–Newton data being dominated by a disc-like component rather than the power law expected from a sub-Eddington intermediate-mass black hole. These data give the best sequence of high Eddington fraction spectra ever assembled due to the combination of low absorption column to M31 and well-calibrated bandpass down to 0.3 keV of XMM–Newton in full frame mode. The spectra can be roughly described by our best current disc model, BHSPEC, assuming a 10 M⊙ black hole with best-fitting spin ∼0.4, declining from L/LEdd= 0.75 to 0.25. However, the data are better described by a two-component model, where the disc emission is significantly affected by advection, and with an additional low-temperature Comptonization component at high energies which becomes more important at high luminosities. This could simply indicate the limitations of our current disc models, though changes in the energy-dependent variability also weakly supports a two-component interpretation of the data. Irrespective of the detailed interpretation of the spectral properties, these data support the presence of accretion on to a stellar mass black hole in a LMXB accreting in the Eddington regime. This allows an unambiguous connection of this object, and, by extension, similar low-luminosity ULXs, to ‘standard’ X-ray binaries.
Middleton, M., Sutton, A., Roberts, T., Jackson, F., & Done, C. (2012). The missing link: a low mass X-ray binary in M31 seen as an ultraluminous X-ray source. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 420(4), 2969-2977. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.20145.x
|Journal Article Type||Article|
|Publication Date||Mar 11, 2012|
|Deposit Date||Jan 30, 2012|
|Publicly Available Date||Jan 28, 2014|
|Journal||Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society|
|Publisher||Royal Astronomical Society|
|Peer Reviewed||Peer Reviewed|
|Keywords||Accretion Discs, Black hole physics, X-rays, Binaries.|
Published Journal Article
This article has been accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. © 2012 The Authors Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
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