48 research outputs found

    On the Nature of the mHz X-Ray Quasi-periodic Oscillations from Ultraluminous X-Ray Source M82 X-1: Search for Timing-Spectral Correlations

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    Using all the archival XMM-Newton X-ray (3-10 keV) observations of the ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) M82 X-1 we searched for a correlation between its variable mHz quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) frequency and its hardness ratio (5-10 keV/3-5 keV), an indicator of the energy spectral power-law index. When stellar-mass black holes (StMBHs) exhibit Type-C low-frequency QPOs (~ 0.2-15 Hz) the centroid frequency of the QPO is known to correlate with the energy spectral index. The detection of such a correlation would strengthen the identification of M82 X-1's mHz QPOs as Type-C and enable a more reliable mass estimate by scaling its QPO frequencies to those of Type-C QPOs in StMBHs of known mass. We resolved the count rates and the hardness ratios of M82 X-1 and a nearby bright ULX (source 5/X42.3+59) through surface brightness modeling. We detected QPOs in the frequency range of 36-210 mHz during which M82 X-1's hardness ratio varied from 0.42-0.47. Our primary results are: (1) we do not detect any correlation between the mHz QPO frequency and the hardness ratio (a substitute for the energy spectral power-law index) and (2) similar to some accreting X-ray binaries, we find that M82 X-1's mHz QPO frequency increases with its X-ray count rate (Pearson's correlation coefficient = +0.97). The apparent lack of a correlation between the QPO centroid frequency and the hardness ratio poses a challenge to the earlier claims that the mHz QPOs of M82 X-1 are the analogs of the Type-C low-frequency QPOs of StMBHs. On the other hand, it is possible that the observed relation between the hardness ratio and the QPO frequency represents the saturated portion of the correlation seen in Type-C QPOs of StMBHs -- in which case M82 X-1's mHz QPOs can still be analogous to Type-C QPOs.Comment: Published in Ap

    Discovery of a 7 mHz X-Ray Quasi-periodic Oscillation from the most Massive Stellar-mass Black Hole IC 10 X-1

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    We report the discovery with XMM-Newton of an approximately 7 mHz X-ray (0.3-10.0 keV) quasi-periodic oscillation (QPO) from the eclipsing, high-inclination black hole binary IC 10 X-1. The QPO is significant at > 4.33 sigma confidence level and has a fractional amplitude (% rms) and a quality factor, Q, of approximately 11 and 4, respectively. The overall X-ray (0.3-10.0 keV) power spectrum in the frequency range 0.0001 - 0.1 Hz can be described by a power-law with an index of -2, and a QPO at 7 mHz. At frequencies > 0.02 Hz there is no evidence for significant variability. The fractional amplitude (rms) of the QPO is roughly energy-independent in the energy range of 0.3-1.5 keV. Above 1.5 keV the low signal to noise ratio of the data does not allow us to detect the QPO. By directly comparing these properties with the wide range of QPOs currently known from accreting black hole and neutron stars, we suggest that the 7 mHz QPO of IC 10 X-1 may be linked to one of the following three categories of QPOs: (1) the "heartbeat" mHz QPOs of the black hole sources GRS 1915+105 and IGR J17091-3624, or (2) the 0.6-2.4 Hz "dipper QPOs" of high-inclination neutron star systems, or (3) the mHz QPOs of Cygnus X-3.Comment: Published in ApJ Letter

    A Multi-Epoch Timing and Spectral Study of the ULX NGC 5408 X-1 with XMM-Newton

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    We report results from extensive new XMM- Newton observations of the ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) NGC 5408 X-1, one of the few ULXs to show quasi-periodic X-ray variability. We detect quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) in each of four new (approximately equal 100 ks each) pointings, expanding the range of frequencies and rms amplitudes observed from the source to 10-40 mHz and 10-45 %, respectively. However, similarly significant variations in the power-law photon spectral index, Gamma, are not observed. We use the results of timing and energy spectral modeling to compare with the timing and spectral correlations seen in stellar-mass systems. We find that the qualitative nature of the timing and energy spectra of NGC 5408 X-1 are very similar to stellar-mass black holes in the steep power-law state exhibiting Type-C QPOs. However, in order for this analogy to quantitatively hold we must only be seeing the so-called saturated portion of the QPO frequency - photon index (or disk flux) relation. Assuming this to be the case, we place a lower limit on the mass of NGC 5408 X-1 of approx greater than 800 Solar Mass. Alternatively, the QPO centroid frequency is largely independent of the spectral parameters, in which case a close analogy of NGC 5408 X-1's mHz QPOs with Type-C QPOs in stellar systems is problematic. Measurement of the source's timing properties over a greater range of spectral parameters (in particular the spectral index) is needed in order to definitively resolve this ambiguity. We searched all the available data for both a broad Fe emission line as well as high frequency QPO analogs (0.1 - 1 Hz), but detected neither. We place upper limits on the equivalent width of any Fe emission feature in the 6 - 7 keY band, and of the amplitude (rms) of a high frequency QPO analog of approx equal 10 eV and approx equal 4%, respectively

    Evidence for Quasi-Periodic X-ray Dips from an ULX: Implications for the Binary Motion and the Orbital Inclination

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    We report results from long-term X-ray (0.3-8.0 keY) monitoring of the ultraluminous X-ray source NGC 5408 X-1 with the Swift/X-Ray Telescope. Our primary results are: (1) the discovery of quasi-periodic dips in the X-ray intensity that recur on average every 243 days, (2) the detection of an energy-dependent (variability amplitude decreases with increasing energy), quasi-sinusoidal X-ray modulation with a period of 112.6 +/- 4 days the amplitude of which decreases during the second half of the light curve and (3) energy spectral evidence for an increase in photoelectric absorption during the last continuous segment of the data, possibly due to a change in the ionization state of the circumbinary material. We interpret the X-ray modulations in the context of binary motion in analogy to that seen in high-inclination low-mass X-ray binaries. If correct, this implies that NGC 5408 X-1 is in a binary with an orbital period of 243 +/- 23 days in contrast to the 115.5 day quasi-sinusoidal period previously reported. In addition, if the X-ray modulation is caused by vertically structured obscuring material in the accretion disk (similar to the phenomenon of dipping LMXBs), this would imply a high value for the inclination of the orbit. A comparison with estimates from accreting X-ray binaries suggests an inclination approx > 60 deg. We note that, in principle, a precessing accretion disk could also produce the observed X-ray modulations

    Can the 62 Day X-ray Period of ULX M82 X-1 Be Due to a Precessing Accretion Disk?

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    We have analyzed all the archival RXTE/PCA monitoring observations of the ultraluminous X-ray source (ULX) M82 X-1 in order to study the properties of its previously discovered 62 day X-ray period (Kaaret & Feng 2007). Based on the high coherence of the modulation it has been argued that the observed period is the orbital period of the binary. Utilizing a much longer data set than in previous studies we find: (1) The phase-resolved X-ray (3-15 keV) energy spectra - modeled with a thermal accretion disk and a power-law corona - suggest that the accretion disk's contribution to the total flux is responsible for the overall periodic modulation while the power-law flux remains approximately constant with phase. (2) Suggestive evidence for a sudden phase shift-of approximately 0.3 in phase (20 days)-between the first and the second halves of the light curve separated by roughly 1000 days. If confirmed, the implied timescale to change the period is approx. = 10 yrs, which is exceptionally fast for an orbital phenomenon. These independent pieces of evidence are consistent with the 62 day period being due to a precessing accretion disk, similar to the so-called super-orbital periods observed in systems like Her X-1, LMC X-4, and SS433. However, the timing evidence for a change in the period needs to be confirmed with additional observations. This should be possible with further monitoring of M82 with instruments such as the X-ray telescope (XRT) on board Swift