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Open AccessArticle

Variable Magellanic HMXB Sources versus Variable ULX Sources: Nothing to Brag about the ULX Sources

1
Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
2
Deptartment of Physics and Applied Physics, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell, MA 01854, USA
3
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Laboratory for High-Energy Astrophysics, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Galaxies 2020, 8(4), 70; https://doi.org/10.3390/galaxies8040070
Received: 2 July 2020 / Revised: 20 August 2020 / Accepted: 21 September 2020 / Published: 24 September 2020
We carry out a meta-analysis of ultraluminous X-ray (ULX) sources that show large variabilities (by factors of >10) between their highest and lowest emission states in the X-ray energy range of 0.3–10 keV. We are guided by a recent stringent compilation of 25 such X-ray sources by Song et al. We examine the relation of logN versus logSmax, where N is the number of sources radiating above the maximum-flux level Smax. We find a strong deviation from all previously determined slopes in various high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) samples. In fact, the ULX data clearly show a slope of 0.91. Thus, ULX sources do not appear to be uniform and isotropic in our Universe. We compare the ULX results against the local X-ray luminosity function of HMXBs in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) constructed from our latest library that includes 41 Chandra 0.3–8 keV sources and 56 XMM-Newton 0.2–12 keV sources. The ULX data are not drawn from the same continuous distribution as the SMC data (the ULX data peak at the low tails of the SMC distributions), and none of our data sets is drawn from a normal distribution or from a log-normal distribution (they all show marked excesses at both tails). At a significance level of α=0.05 (2σ), the two-sample p-value of the Kolmogorov–Smirnov (KS) test gives p=4.7×103<α for the ULX versus the small Chandra sample and p=1.1×105<<α for the ULX versus the larger XMM-Newton sample, respectively. This adds to the evidence that ULX sources are not simply the higher end of the known local Be/X-ray pulsar distribution, but they represent a class of X-ray sources different from the young sources found in the SMC and in individual starburst galaxies. On the other hand, our two main SMC data sets are found to be statistically consistent, as they are drawn from the same continuous parent distribution (null hypothesis H0): at the α=0.05 significance level, the two-sample KS test shows an asymptotic p-value of 0.308>α, which tells us to accept H0. View Full-Text
Keywords: high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB); neutron star; pulsar; ultraluminous X-ray (ULX) source; X-rays high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB); neutron star; pulsar; ultraluminous X-ray (ULX) source; X-rays
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Christodoulou, D.M.; Laycock, S.G.T.; Cappallo, R.; Roy, A.; Bhattacharya , S.; Kazanas, D. Variable Magellanic HMXB Sources versus Variable ULX Sources: Nothing to Brag about the ULX Sources. Galaxies 2020, 8, 70.

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