Article

The supergiant optical counterpart of ULX P13 in NGC7793

11/2010;
Source: arXiv

ABSTRACT We have identified the optical counterpart of the ULX source P13 in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 7793. The object is a V ~ 20.5 mag star, ten times brighter than any other established counterpart of a ULX in nearby galaxies. Medium resolution optical spectroscopy carried out in 2008 and 2009 with the ESO-VLT reveals the presence of narrow high order Balmer, HeI and MgII absorption lines indicating a late B type supergiant companion star with mass between 10 and 20 Msol. Stellar H beta and HeII 4686 emission lines are also seen superposed on the photospheric spectrum. We detect different patterns of radial velocity variations from the emission and absorption lines over a time interval of one month. The velocity of the high order Balmer absorption lines changes by ~ 100 km/s while the H beta and HeI 4686 emission components vary by about the same amount but with a different phasing. Assuming that the observed velocity changes trace the motion of the mass-donor star and of the X-ray source implies a mass of the accreting black hole in the range of 3 to 100 Msol with a most probable value of ~ 10 to 20 Msol. We expect an orbital period in the range of 20 to 40 days based on the low density of the supergiant star. P13 is likely in a short-lived, and thus rare high X-ray luminosity evolutionary state associated with the ascension of the donor star onto the supergiant stage. Comment: 4 pages, 5 figures, accepted for publication in the Astronomische Nachrichten, to appear in the proceedings of the conference "Ultra-Luminous X-ray sources and Middle Weight Black Holes" (Madrid, May 24-26, 2010)

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