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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Tim Roberts

Mezcua, M., Roberts, T.P., Sutton, A.D. & Lobanov, A.P. (2013). Radio observations of extreme ULXs revealing the most powerful ULX radio nebula ever or the jet of an intermediate-mass black hole? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 436(4): 3128-3134.

Author(s) from Durham


The most extreme ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs), with LX > 5 × 1040 erg s−1, are amongst the best candidates for hosting intermediate-mass black holes (IMBHs) in the haloes of galaxies. Jet radio emission is expected from a sub-Eddington accreting IMBH in the low/hard (radio bright) state. In a search for such IMBH jet radio emission, we have observed with the Very Large Array (VLA) at 5 GHz a sample of seven extreme ULXs whose X-ray properties indicate they are in the hard state. Assuming they remain in this state, the non-detection of radio emission for six of the target sources allows us to constrain their black hole mass to the IMBH regime, thus ruling out a supermassive black hole nature. For the extreme ULX in the galaxy NGC 2276, we detect extended radio emission formed by two lobes of total flux density 1.43 ± 0.22 mJy and size ∼650 pc. The X-ray counterpart is located between the two lobes, suggesting the presence of a black hole with jet radio emission. The radio luminosity allows us to constrain the black hole mass of this source to the IMBH regime; hence, the extreme ULX in NGC 2276 could be the first detection of extended jet radio emission from an IMBH. The radio emission could also possibly come from a radio nebula powered by the ULX with a minimum total energy of 5.9 × 1052 erg, thus constituting the most powerful and largest ULX radio nebula ever observed.