RX J0042.3+4115: a stellar mass black hole binary identified in M 31

Barnard, R.; Osborne, J.P.; Kolb, U. and Borozdin, K.N. (2003). RX J0042.3+4115: a stellar mass black hole binary identified in M 31. Astronomy & Geophysics, 405 pp. 505–511.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030638


Four XMM-Newton X-ray observations of the central region of the Andromeda Galaxy (M 31) have revealed an X-ray source that varies in luminosity over ~1-3x1038 erg s -1 between observations and also displays significant variability over time-scales of a few hundred seconds. The power density spectra of lightcurves obtained in the 0.3-10 keV energy band from the three EPIC instruments on board XMM-Newton are typical of disc-accreting X-ray binaries at low accretion rates, observed in neutron star binaries only at much lower luminosities (~ 1036 erg s -1). However X-ray binaries with massive black hole primaries have exhibited such power spectra for luminosities >10 38 erg s -1. We discuss alternative possibilities where RX J0042.3+4115 may be a background AGN or foreground object in the field of view, but conclude that it is located within M 31 and hence use the observed power spectra and X-ray luminosities to identify the primary as a black hole candidate.

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