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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tim Roberts

Jenkins, L. P., Roberts, T. P., Warwick, R. S., Kilgard, R. E. & Ward, M. J. (2005). An XMM-Newton view of M101 - II. Global X-ray source properties. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 357(2): 401-419.

Author(s) from Durham


We present the global X-ray properties of the point source population in the grand-design spiral galaxy M101, as seen with XMM–Newton. 108 X-ray sources are detected within the D25 ellipse of M101, of which ∼24 are estimated to be background galaxies. Multiwavelength cross-correlations show that 20 sources are coincident with HII regions and/or supernova remnants (SNRs), seven have identified/candidate background galaxy counterparts, six are coincident with foreground stars and one has a radio counterpart. While the spectral and timing properties of the brightest sources were presented by Jenkins et al., here we apply an X-ray colour classification scheme to split the entire source population into different types, i.e. X-ray binaries (XRBs), SNRs, absorbed sources, background sources and supersoft sources (SSSs). Approximately 60 per cent of the population can be classified as XRBs, although there is source contamination from background active galactic nuclei (AGN) in this category as they have similar spectral shapes in the X-ray regime. 15 sources have X-ray colours consistent with SNRs, three of which correlate with known SNR/HII radio sources. Another two are promising new candidates for SNRs, one is unidentified, and the remainder are a mixture of foreground stars, bright soft XRBs and AGN candidates. We also detect 14 candidate SSSs, with significant detections in the softest X-ray band (0.3–1keV) only. 16 sources display short-term variability during the XMM–Newton observation, twelve of which fall into the XRB category, giving additional evidence of their accreting nature. Using archival Chandra and ROSAT High Resolution Imager data, we find that ∼40 per cent of the XMM sources show long-term variability over a baseline of up to ∼10 yr, and eight sources display potential transient behaviour between observations. Sources with significant flux variations between the XMM and Chandra observations show a mixture of softening and hardening with increasing luminosity. The spectral and timing properties of the sources coincident with M101 confirm that its X-ray source population is dominated by accreting XRBs.