XMM-Newton observations of the Galactic Centre Region - I. The distribution of low-luminosity X-ray sources
journal contributionposted on 01.02.2016, 10:59 by V. Heard, Robert Seymour Warwick
We exploit XMM–Newton archival data in a study of the extended X-ray emission emanating from Galactic Centre (GC) region. XMM–Newton EPIC-pn and EPIC-MOS observations, with a total exposure time approaching 0.5 and 1 Ms, respectively, were used to create mosaicked images of a 100 pc × 100 pc region centred on Sgr A* in four bands covering the 2–10 keV energy range. We have also constructed a set of narrow-band images corresponding to the neutral iron fluorescence line (Fe i Kα) at 6.4 keV and the K-shell lines at 6.7 and 6.9 keV from helium-like (Fe xxv Kα) and hydrogenic (Fe xxvi Lyα) iron ions. We use a combination of spatial and spectral information to decompose the GC X-ray emission into three distinct components. These comprise: first the emission from hard X-ray emitting unresolved point sources; secondly the reflected continuum and fluorescent line emission from dense molecular material and, thirdly, the soft diffuse emission from thermal plasma in the temperature range kT ≈ 0.8–1.5 keV. We show that the unresolved-source component accounts for the bulk of the 6.7- and 6.9-keV line emission and also makes a major contribution to both the 6.4-keV line emission and the 7.2–10 keV continuum flux. We fit the observed X-ray surface-brightness distribution with an empirical 2D model, which we then compare with a prediction based on an NIR-derived 3D mass model for the old stellar population in the GC. The X-ray surface brightness falls-off more rapidly with angular offset from Sgr A* than the mass-model prediction. One interpretation is that the 2–10 keV X-ray emissivity increases from ≈ 5 × 1027 erg s− 1 M− 1⊙ at 20 arcmin up to almost twice this value at 2 arcmin. Alternatively, some refinement of the mass model may be required, although it is unclear whether this applies to the Nuclear Stellar Cluster, the Nuclear Stellar Disc or a combination of both components. The unresolved hard X-ray emitting source population, on the basis of spectral comparisons, is most likely dominated by magnetic cataclysmic variables, primarily intermediate polars. We use the X-ray observations to set constraints on the number density of such sources at angular offsets between 2 and 20 arcmin from Sgr A* (projected distances at the GC of 4.6–46 pc). Our analysis does not support the conjecture that a significant fraction of the hard X-ray emission from the GC originates in very hot (∼7.5 keV) diffuse thermal plasma.