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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tim Roberts

Gladstone J.C. & Roberts T.P. (2009). The ultraluminous X-ray source population of NGC 4485/4490. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 397(1): 124-134.

Author(s) from Durham


We report the results of spectral and temporal variability studies of the ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) contained within the interacting pair of galaxies NGC 4485/4490, combining Chandra and XMM–Newton observations. Each of the four separate observations provide at least modest quality spectra and light curves for each of the six previously identified ULXs in this system; we also note the presence of a new transient ULX in the most recent observation. No short-term variability was observed for any ULX within our sample, but three out of five sources show correlated flux/spectral changes over longer time-scales, with two others remaining stable in spectrum and luminosity over a period of at least 5 yr. We model the spectra with simple power-law and multicolour disc blackbody models. Although the data are insufficient to statistically distinguish models in each epoch, those better modelled (in terms of their χ2 fit) by a multicolour disc blackbody appear to show a disc-like correlation between luminosity and temperature, whereas those modelled by a power-law veer sharply away from such a relationship. The ULXs with possible correlated flux/spectral changes appear to change spectral form at ∼2 × 1039 erg s−1, suggestive of a possible change in spectral state at high luminosities. If this transition is occurring between the very high state and a super-Eddington ultraluminous state, it indicates that the mass of the black holes in these ULXs is around 10–15 M⊙.