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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tim Roberts

Earnshaw, H.P., Roberts, T.P., Middleton, M.J., Walton, D.J. & Mateos, S (2019). A new, clean catalogue of extragalactic non-nuclear X-ray sources in nearby galaxies. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 483(4): 5554–5573.

Author(s) from Durham


We have created a new, clean catalogue of extragalactic non-nuclear X-ray sources by correlating the 3XMM-DR4 data release of the XMM-Newton Serendipitous Source Catalogue with the Third Reference Catalogue of Bright Galaxies and the Catalogue of Neighbouring Galaxies, using an improved version of the method presented in Walton et al. (2011). Our catalogue contains 1,314 sources, of which 384 are candidate ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs). The resulting catalogue improves upon previous catalogues in its handling of spurious detections by taking into account XMM-Newton quality flags. We estimate the contamination of ULXs by background sources to be 24 per cent. We define a ‘complete’ subsample as those ULXs in galaxies for which the sensitivity limit is below 1039 erg s−1 and use it to examine the hardness ratio properties between ULX and non-ULX sources, and ULXs in different classes of host galaxy. We find that ULXs have a similar hardness ratio distribution to lower-luminosity sources, consistent with previous studies. We also find that ULXs in spiral and elliptical host galaxies have similar distributions to each other independent of host galaxy morphology, however our results do support previous indications that the population of ULXs is more luminous in star-forming host galaxies than in non-star-forming galaxies. Our catalogue contains further interesting subpopulations for future study, including Eddington Threshold sources and highly variable ULXs. We also examine the highest-luminosity (LX > 5 × 1040 erg s−1) ULXs in our catalogue in search of intermediate-mass black hole candidates, and find nine new possible candidates.