University of Cambridge > > Institute of Astronomy Seminars > Discovery of powerful winds in Ultraluminous X-ray sources

Discovery of powerful winds in Ultraluminous X-ray sources

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Ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) are exceptionally bright astronomical objects found throughout the local Universe. Their extreme luminosities, above 1039 erg/s, must result from the process of accretion onto a compact object. Viable solutions include accretion onto neutron stars with strong magnetic fields, accretion onto stellar mass black holes (< 100 M_solar) at or in excess of the classical Eddington limit (super-critical accretion) or accretion at more sedate rates onto intermediate mass black holes (IMBHs 103-5 M_solar). A major obstacle has been the profound lack of unambiguous atomic features in the X-ray spectra of these sources which can be used to diagnose the nature of the accretion flow around the compact object. As a result, the true nature of the wider population of ULXs has been shrouded in debate. Here we identify strong (> 5-sigma), rest-frame emission lines and narrow, blue-shifted (~0.2-0.3c) absorption lines from a high spectral-energy-resolution study of the archetypal ULX , NGC 1313 X-1 using the XMM -Newton Reflection Grating Spectrometer. The detections confirm the presence of powerful winds in this source and by extension other similar ULXs.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Seminars series.

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