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eROSITA’s first all-sky image

Recently the first all-sky image of the X-ray sky was released by the eROSITA instrument on-board the Spectrum-Roentgen-Gamma” (SRG) mission. It is fascinating that they refer to a million X-ray, which is almost 10 times more than what has been discovered from all X-ray surveys so far, so a bright X-ray future lies ahead! The image is captivating, especially when you try to pinpoint some of the brightest and interesting sources.

The energetic universe as seen with the eROSITA X-ray telescope. The first eROSITA all-sky survey was conducted over a period of six months by letting the telescope rotate continuously, thus providing a uniform exposure of about 150-200 seconds over most of the sky, with the ecliptic poles being visited more deeply. As eROSITA scans the sky, the energy of the collected photons is measured with an accuracy ranging from 2% – 6%. To generate this image, in which the whole sky is projected onto an ellipse (so-called Aitoff projection) with the centre of the Milky Way in the middle and the body of the Galaxy running horizontally, photons have been colour-coded according to their energy (red for energies 0.3-0.6 keV, green for 0.6-1 keV, blue for 1-2.3 keV). The original image, with a resolution of about 10”, and a corresponding dynamic range of more than one billion, is then smoothed (with a 10’ FWHM Gaussian) in order to generate the above picture.The red diffuse glow away from the galactic plane is the emission of the hot gas in the vicinity of the solar system (the Local Bubble). Along the plane itself, dust and gas absorb the lowest energy X-ray photons, so that only high-energy emitting sources can be seen, and their colour appears blue in the image. The hotter gas close to the galactic centre, shown in green and yellow, carries imprinted the history of the most energetic processes in the life of the Milky Way, such as supernova explosions, driving fountains of gas out of the plane, and, possibly, past outburst from the now dormant supermassive black hole in the centre of the galaxy. Piercing through this turbulent, hot diffuse medium, are hundreds of thousands of X-ray sources, which appear mostly white in the image, and uniformly distributed over the sky. Among them, distant active galactic nuclei (including a few emitting at a time when the Universe was less than one tenth of its current age) are visible as point sources, while clusters of galaxies reveal themselves as extended X-ray nebulosities. In total, about one million X-ray sources have been detected in the eROSITA all-sky image, a treasure trove that will keep the teams busy for the coming years.

Credit: Jeremy Sanders, Hermann Brunner and the eSASS team (MPE); Eugene Churazov, Marat Gilfanov (on behalf of IKI)

Source: Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Our deepest view of the X-ray sky, (accessed 26 June 2020)

 

Annotated version of the eROSITA First All-Sky image. Several prominent X-ray features are marked, ranging from distant galaxy clusters (Coma, Virgo, Fornax, Perseus) to extended sources such as Supernova Remnants (SNRs) and Nebulae to bright point sources, e.g. Sco X-1, the first extrasolar X-ray source to be detected. The Vela SNR is to the right of this image, the Large Magellanic Cloud in the bottom right quadrant, the Shapley supercluster in the upper right (though not easily visible in this projection).

Source: Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Presskit for the eROSITA First All-Sky Survey (accessed 26 June 2020)

New Paper on BeXRBs – 5 new BeXRBs in the SMC and the link of the supergiant B[e] star LHA 115-S 18 with an X-ray source

Optical spectra of 5 new Be/X-ray Binaries in the Small Magellanic Cloud and the link of the supergiant B[e] star LHA 115-S 18 with an X-ray source

Grigoris Maravelias, Andreas Zezas, Vallia Antoniou, Despoina Hatzidimitriou

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) is well known to harbor a large number of High-Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXBs). The identification of their optical counterparts provides information on the nature of the donor stars and can help to constrain the parameters of these systems and their evolution. We obtained optical spectra for a number of HMXBs identified in previous Chandra and XMM-Newton surveys of the SMC using the AAOmega/2dF fiber-fed spectrograph at the Anglo-Australian Telescope. We find 5 new Be/X-ray binaries (BeXRBs; including a tentative one), by identifying the spectral type of their optical counterparts, and we confirm the spectral classification of an additional 15 known BeXRBs. We compared the spectral types, orbital periods, and eccentricities of the BeXRB populations in the SMC and the Milky Way and we find marginal evidence for difference between the spectral type distributions, but no statistically significant differences for the orbital periods and the eccentricities. Moreover, our search revealed that the well known supergiant B[e] star LHA 115-S 18 (or AzV 154) is associated with the weak X-ray source CXOU J005409.57-724143.5. We provide evidence that the supergiant star LHA 115-S 18 is the optical counterpart of the X-ray source, and we discuss different possibilities of the origin of its low X-ray luminosity (Lx ~ 4 x 10^33 erg/s).

arXiv:1312.0593