We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tim Roberts

Earnshaw, H. M. & Roberts, T. P. (2017). Soft Extragalactic X-Ray Binaries at the Eddington Threshold. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 467(3): 2690-2705.

Author(s) from Durham


The luminosity range at and just below the 1039 erg s−1 cut-off for defining ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) is a little-explored regime. It none-the-less hosts a large number of X-ray sources, and has great potential for improving our understanding of sources with ∼Eddington accretion rates. We select a sample of four sources in this Eddington Threshold regime with good data for further study; these objects possess a variety of soft spectral shapes. We perform X-ray spectral and timing analysis on the XMM-Newton and Chandra data for these objects to gain insight into their accretion mechanisms, and also examine their optical counterparts using HST images. NGC 300 X-1 is a highly luminous and well-known example of the canonical steep power-law accretion state. M51 ULS exhibits a cool blackbody-like spectrum and is consistent with being an ultraluminous supersoft source (ULS), possibly a super-Eddington accreting object viewed at a high inclination through an optically thick outflowing wind. NGC 4395 ULX-1 and NGC 6946 ULX-1 have unusually steep power-law tails, for which we discuss a variety of possible physical mechanisms and links to similar features in Galactic microquasars, and we conclude that these sources are likely intermediate objects between the soft ultraluminous regime of ULXs and classic ULSs.