N. Grosso

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, United States

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Publications (154)495.98 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present a statistical analysis of the X-ray flux distribution of Sgr A* from the Chandra X-ray Observatory's 3 Ms Sgr A* X-ray Visionary Project (XVP) in 2012. Our analysis indicates that the observed X-ray flux distribution can be decomposed into a steady quiescent component, represented by a Poisson process with rate $Q=(5.24\pm0.08)\times10^{-3}$ cts s$^{-1},$ and a variable component, represented by a power law process ($dN/dF\propto F^{-\xi},$ $\xi=1.92_{-0.02}^{+0.03}$). This slope matches our recently-reported distribution of flare luminosities. The variability may also be described by a log-normal process with a median unabsorbed 2-8 keV flux of $1.8^{+0.9}_{-0.6}\times10^{-14}$ erg s$^{-1}$ cm$^{-2}$ and a shape parameter $\sigma=2.4\pm0.2,$ but the power law provides a superior description of the data. In this decomposition of the flux distribution, all of the intrinsic X-ray variability of Sgr A* (spanning at least three orders of magnitude in flux) can be attributed to flaring activity, likely in the inner accretion flow. We confirm that at the faint end, the variable component contributes ~10% of the apparent quiescent flux, as previously indicated by our statistical analysis of X-ray flares in these Chandra observations. Our flux distribution provides a new and important observational constraint on theoretical models of Sgr A*, and we use simple radiation models to explore the extent to which a statistical comparison of the X-ray and infrared can provide insights into the physics of the X-ray emission mechanism.
    12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We analyse and report in detail new near-infrared (1.45 - 2.45 microns) observations of the Dusty S-cluster Object (DSO/G2) during its approach to the black hole at the center of the Galaxy that were carried out with ESO VLT/SINFONI between February and September 2014. Before May 2014 we detect spatially compact Br and Pa� line emission from the DSO at about 40mas east of SgrA*. The velocity of the source, measured from the red-shifted emission, is 2700±60 km/s. No blue-shifted emission above the noise level is detected at the position of SgrA* or upstream the presumed orbit. After May we find spatially compact Br blueshifted line emission from the DSO at about 30mas west of SgrA* at a velocity of −3320±60 km/s and no indication for significant red-shifted emission. We do not detect any significant extension of velocity gradient across the source. We find a Br -line full width at half maximum of 50±10 °A before and 15±10 °A after the peribothron transit, i.e. no significant line broadening with respect to last year is observed. Br line maps show that the bulk of the line emission originates from a region of less than 20 mas diameter. This is consistent with a very compact source on an elliptical orbit with a peribothron time passage in 2014.39±0.14. For the moment, the flaring activity of the black hole in the near-infrared regime has not shown any statistically significant increment. Increased accretion activity of SgrA* may still be upcoming. We discuss details of a source model according to which the DSO is rather a young accreting star than a coreless gas and dust cloud.
    The Astrophysical Journal. 10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: In Spring 2011 we observed Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the center of our Galaxy, with XMM-Newton with a total exposure of ~226 ks in coordination with the 1.3 mm VLBI. We have performed timing analysis of the X-ray emission from Sgr A* using Bayesian blocks algorithm to detect X-ray flares observed with XMM-Newton. Furthermore, we computed X-ray smoothed light curves observed in this campaign in order to have better accuracy on the position and the amplitude of the flares. We detected 2 X-ray flares on the 2011 March 30 and April 3 which have for comparison a peak detection level of 6.8 and 5.9 sigma in the XMM-Newton/EPIC light curve in the 2-10 keV energy range with a 300 s bin. The former is characterized by 2 sub-flares: the first one is very short (~458 s) with a peak luminosity of ~9.4E34 erg/s whereas the second one is longer (~1542 s) with a lower peak luminosity of ~6.8E34 erg/s. The comparison with the sample of X-ray flares detected during the 2012 Chandra XVP campaign favors the hypothesis that the 2011 March 30 flare is a single flare rather than 2 distinct sub-flares. We model the light curve of this flare with the gravitational lensing of a simple hotspot-like structure but we can not satisfactorily reproduce the large decay of the light curve between the 2 sub-flares with this model. From magnetic energy heating during the rise phase of the first sub-flare and assuming an X-ray photons production efficiency of 1 and a magnetic field of 100 G at 2 r_g, we derive an upper limit to the radial distance of the first sub-flare of 100 r_g. We estimate using the decay phase of the first sub-flare a lower limit to the radial distance of 4 r_g from synchrotron cooling in the infrared. The X-ray emitting region of the first sub-flare is located at a radial position of 4-100 and has a corresponding radius of 1.8-2.87 in r_g unit for a magnetic field of 100 G at 2 r_g.
    09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Very long baseline interferometry at millimetre/submillimetre wavelengths (mmVLBI) offers the highest achievable spatial resolution at any wavelength in astronomy. The anticipated inclusion of ALMA as a phased array into a global VLBI network will bring unprecedented sensitivity and a transformational leap in capabilities for mmVLBI. Building on years of pioneering efforts in the US and Europe the ongoing ALMA Phasing Project (APP), a US-led international collaboration with MPIfR-led European contributions, is expected to deliver a beamformer and VLBI capability to ALMA by the end of 2014 (APP: Fish et al. 2013, arXiv:1309.3519). This report focuses on the future use of mmVLBI by the international users community from a European viewpoint. Firstly, it highlights the intense science interest in Europe in future mmVLBI observations as compiled from the responses to a general call to the European community for future research projects. A wide range of research is presented that includes, amongst others: - Imaging the event horizon of the black hole at the centre of the Galaxy - Testing the theory of General Relativity an/or searching for alternative theories - Studying the origin of AGN jets and jet formation - Cosmological evolution of galaxies and BHs, AGN feedback - Masers in the Milky Way (in stars and star-forming regions) - Extragalactic emission lines and astro-chemistry - Redshifted absorption lines in distant galaxies and study of the ISM and circumnuclear gas - Pulsars, neutron stars, X-ray binaries - Testing cosmology - Testing fundamental physical constants
    06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: We report on a comprehensive X-ray spectral analysis of the nearby radio-quiet quasar MR 2251-178, based on the long-look (~ 400 ks) XMM-Newton observation carried out in November 2011. As the properties of the multiphase warm absorber (thoroughly discussed in a recent, complementary work) hint at a steep photoionizing continuum, here we investigate into the nature of the intrinsic X-ray emission of MR 2251-178 by testing several physical models. The apparent 2-10 keV flatness as well as the subtle broadband curvature can be ascribed to partial covering of the X-ray source by a cold, clumpy absorption system with column densities ranging from a fraction to several x10^23 cm^-2. As opposed to more complex configurations, only one cloud is required along the line of sight in the presence of a soft X-ray excess, possibly arising as Comptonized disc emission in the accretion disc atmosphere. On statistical grounds, even reflection with standard efficiency off the surface of the inner disc cannot be ruled out, although this tentatively overpredicts the observed ~ 14-150 keV emission. It is thus possible that each of the examined physical processes is relevant to a certain degree, and hence only a combination of high-quality, simultaneous broadband spectral coverage and multi-epoch monitoring of X-ray spectral variability could help disentangling the different contributions. Yet, regardless of the model adopted, we infer for MR 2251-178 a bolometric luminosity of ~ 5-7 x 10^45 erg/s, implying that the central black hole is accreting at ~ 15-25 per cent of the Eddington limit.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 02/2014; 440(2). · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In the last twenty years, the topic of episodic accretion has gained significant interest in the star formation community. It is now viewed as a common, though still poorly understood, phenomenon in low-mass star formation. The FU Orionis objects (FUors) are long-studied examples of this phenomenon. FUors are believed to undergo accretion outbursts during which the accretion rate rapidly increases from typically $10^{-7}$ to a few $10^{-4}$ $M_\odot$ yr$^{-1}$, and remains elevated over several decades or more. EXors, a loosely defined class of pre-main sequence stars, exhibit shorter and repetitive outbursts, associated with lower accretion rates. The relationship between the two classes, and their connection to the standard pre-main sequence evolutionary sequence, is an open question: do they represent two distinct classes, are they triggered by the same physical mechanism, and do they occur in the same evolutionary phases? Over the past couple of decades, many theoretical and numerical models have been developed to explain the origin of FUor and EXor outbursts. In parallel, such accretion bursts have been detected at an increasing rate, and as observing techniques improve each individual outburst is studied in increasing detail. We summarize key observations of pre-main sequence star outbursts, and review the latest thinking on outburst triggering mechanisms, the propagation of outbursts from star/disk to disk/jet systems, the relation between classical EXors and FUors, and newly discovered outbursting sources -- all of which shed new light on episodic accretion. We finally highlight some of the most promising directions for this field in the near- and long-term.
    01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: X-ray polarimetry, sometimes alone, and sometimes coupled to spectral and temporal variability measurements and to imaging, allows a wealth of physical phenomena in astrophysics to be studied. X-ray polarimetry investigates the acceleration process, for example, including those typical of magnetic reconnection in solar flares, but also emission in the strong magnetic fields of neutron stars and white dwarfs. It detects scattering in asymmetric structures such as accretion disks and columns, and in the so-called molecular torus and ionization cones. In addition, it allows fundamental physics in regimes of gravity and of magnetic field intensity not accessible to experiments on the Earth to be probed. Finally, models that describe fundamental interactions (e.g. quantum gravity and the extension of the Standard Model) can be tested. We describe in this paper the X-ray Imaging Polarimetry Explorer (XIPE), proposed in June 2012 to the first ESA call for a small mission with a launch in 2017 but not selected. XIPE is composed of two out of the three existing JET-X telescopes with two Gas Pixel Detectors (GPD) filled with a He-DME mixture at their focus and two additional GPDs filled with pressurized Ar-DME facing the sun. The Minimum Detectable Polarization is 14 % at 1 mCrab in 10E5 s (2-10 keV) and 0.6 % for an X10 class flare. The Half Energy Width, measured at PANTER X-ray test facility (MPE, Germany) with JET-X optics is 24 arcsec. XIPE takes advantage of a low-earth equatorial orbit with Malindi as down-link station and of a Mission Operation Center (MOC) at INPE (Brazil).
    Experimental Astronomy 12/2013; 36(3):523-567. · 2.66 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: "Changing look" Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN) are a subset of Seyfert galaxies characterized by rapid transitions between Compton-thin and Compton-thick regimes. In their Compton-thin state, the central engine is less obscured, hence spectroscopy or timing observations can probe their innermost structures. However, it is not clear if the observed emission features and the Compton hump are associated with relativistic reflection onto the accretion disc, or complex absorption by distant, absorbing gas clouds passing by the observer's line-of-sight. Here, we investigate these two scenarios under the scope of X-ray polarimetry, providing the first polarisation predictions for an archetypal "changing look" AGN: NGC 1365. We explore the resulting polarisation emerging from lamp-post emission and scattering off an accretion disc in the immediate vicinity of a supermassive black hole. The computed polarisation signatures are compared to the results of an absorption-dominated model, where high column density gas partially covers the central source. While the shape of the polarisation spectrum is similar, the two models differ in net polarisation percentage, with the relativistic reflection scenario producing significantly stronger polarisation. Additionally, the variation of the polarisation position angle is distinctly different between both scenarios: the reflection-dominated model produces smooth rotations of the polarisation angle with photon energy whereas circumnuclear absorption causes an orthogonal switch of the polarisation angle between the soft and the hard X-ray bands. By comparing the predicted polarisation of NGC 1365 to the detectability levels of X-ray polarimetry mission concepts proposed in the past, we demonstrate that with a large, soft X-ray observatory or a medium-sized mission equipped with a hard (6 - 35 keV) polarimeter, the correct interpretation would be unambiguous.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 12/2013; 436(2):1615-1620. · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Over the last decade, X-ray observations of Sgr A* have revealed a black hole in a deep sleep, punctuated roughly once per day by brief flares. The extreme X-ray faintness of this supermassive black hole has been a long-standing puzzle in black hole accretion. To study the accretion processes in the Galactic Center, Chandra (in concert with numerous ground- and space-based observatories) undertook a 3 Ms campaign on Sgr A* in 2012. With its excellent observing cadence, sensitivity, and spectral resolution, this Chandra X-ray Visionary Project (XVP) provides an unprecedented opportunity to study the behavior of the closest supermassive black hole. We present a progress report from our ongoing study of X-ray flares, including the brightest flare ever seen from Sgr A*. Focusing on the statistics of the flares and the quiescent emission, we discuss the physical implications of X-ray variability in the Galactic Center.
    Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 11/2013; 9(S303).
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    ABSTRACT: X-ray emission is characteristic of young stellar objects (YSOs) and is known to be highly variable. We investigate, via a multiwavelength IR/X-ray study of the L1630 dark cloud, whether and how X-ray variability in young stellar objects is related to protostellar evolutionary state. We have analyzed 11 Chandra X-ray Observatory observations, obtained over the course of four years and totaling ~240 ks exposure time, targeting the eruptive Class I YSO V1647 Ori in L1630. We used 2MASS and Spitzer data to identify and classify IR counterparts to L1630 X-ray sources and identified a total of 52 X-ray emitting YSOs with IR counterparts, including 4 Class I sources and 1 Class 0/I source. We have detected cool (< 3 MK) plasma, possibly indicative of accretion shocks, in three classical T Tauri stars. A subsample of 27 X-ray-emitting YSOs were covered by 9 of the 11 Chandra observations targeting V1647 Ori and vicinity. For these 27 YSOs, we have constructed X-ray light curves spanning approximately four years. These light curves highlight the variable nature of pre-main sequence X-ray emitting young stars; many of the L1630 YSOs vary by orders of magnitude in count rate between observations. We discuss possible scenarios to explain apparent trends between various X-ray spectral properties, X-ray variance and YSO classification.
    The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series 11/2013; 213(1). · 14.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Most supermassive black holes (SMBHs) are accreting at very low levels and are difficult to distinguish from the galaxy centers where they reside. Our own Galaxy's SMBH provides an instructive exception, and we present a close-up view of its quiescent x-ray emission based on 3 megaseconds of Chandra observations. Although the x-ray emission is elongated and aligns well with a surrounding disk of massive stars, we can rule out a concentration of low-mass coronally active stars as the origin of the emission on the basis of the lack of predicted iron (Fe) Kα emission. The extremely weak hydrogen (H)-like Fe Kα line further suggests the presence of an outflow from the accretion flow onto the SMBH. These results provide important constraints for models of the prevalent radiatively inefficient accretion state.
    Science 08/2013; 341(6149):981-3. · 31.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We detected three intermittent X-ray flares from a protostar YLW15. Each flare occurred every ∼20 hours, and showed an exponential decay of time constant 30–60 ks. The time-sliced X-ray spectra are all explained by a thin thermal plasma emission. The plasma temperature shows a fast-rise and a slow-decay for each flare, while the emission measure of the plasma increases only at the beginning of the first flare and is almost constant during the second and third flares. Thus the X-rays are attributable to a single plasma produced by the first large flare, then the plasma is re-heated quasi-periodically. The re-heating interval is significantly shorter than the spin periods known on T Tauri stars (2–3 days at minimum), but comparable to the Keplerian rotation period of inner accretion disk at a distance of r − 5 R⊙ (M/M⊙)1.5. Assuming that the temperature decrease is due to radiative cooling, and the plasma geometry is a solar-like flare loop of an aspect ratio (=length/diameter) of 10, we estimate that the plasma loop length is about 10 R⊙. Possible origin for the quasi-periodic flaring, magnetic activity produced in a star and inner disk interacting region, is briefly discussed.
    Advances in Space Research 07/2013; 25(s 3–4):535–538. · 1.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first systematic analysis of the X-ray variability of Sgr A* during the Chandra X-ray Observatory's 2012 Sgr A* X-ray Visionary Project (XVP). With 38 High Energy Transmission Grating Spectrometer (HETGS) observations spaced an average of 7 days apart, this unprecedented campaign enables detailed study of the X-ray emission from this supermassive black hole at high spatial, spectral and timing resolution. In 3 Ms of observations, we detect 39 X-ray flares from Sgr A*, lasting from a few hundred seconds to approximately 8 ks, and ranging in 2-10 keV luminosity from ~1e34 erg/s to 2e35 erg/s. Despite tentative evidence for a gap in the distribution of flare peak count rates, there is no evidence for X-ray color differences between faint and bright flares. Our preliminary X-ray flare luminosity distribution dN/dL is consistent with a power law with index -1.9 (+0.3 -0.4); this is similar to some estimates of Sgr A*'s NIR flux distribution. The observed flares contribute one-third of the total X-ray output of Sgr A* during the campaign, and as much as 10% of the quiescent X-ray emission could be comprised of weak, undetected flares, which may also contribute high-frequency variability. We argue that flares may be the only source of X-ray emission from the inner accretion flow.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 774(1). · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stars over a wide range of masses and evolutionary stages are nowadays known to emit X-rays. This X-ray emission is a unique probe of the most energetic phenomena occurring in the circumstellar environment of these stars, and provides precious insight on magnetic phenomena or hydrodynamic shocks. Owing to its large collecting area, Athena+ will open up an entirely new window on these phenomena. Indeed, Athena+ will not only allow us to study many more objects with an unprecedented spectral resolution, but will also pioneer the study of the dynamics of these objects via time-resolved high-resolution spectroscopy. In this way, Athena+ will be a unique tool to study accretion processes in TTauri stars, flaring activity in young stars, dynamos in ultra-cool dwarfs, small and large-scale structures in the winds of single massive stars, wind interactions in massive binary systems, hot bubbles in planetary nebula... All these studies will lead to a deeper understanding of yet poorly understood processes which have profound impact in star and planetary system formation as well as in feedback processes on Galactic scale.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: This White Paper, submitted to the recent ESA call for science themes to define its future large missions, advocates the need for a transformational leap in our understanding of two key questions in astrophysics: 1) How does ordinary matter assemble into the large scale structures that we see today? 2) How do black holes grow and shape the Universe? Hot gas in clusters, groups and the intergalactic medium dominates the baryonic content of the local Universe. To understand the astrophysical processes responsible for the formation and assembly of these large structures, it is necessary to measure their physical properties and evolution. This requires spatially resolved X-ray spectroscopy with a factor 10 increase in both telescope throughput and spatial resolving power compared to currently planned facilities. Feedback from supermassive black holes is an essential ingredient in this process and in most galaxy evolution models, but it is not well understood. X-ray observations can uniquely reveal the mechanisms launching winds close to black holes and determine the coupling of the energy and matter flows on larger scales. Due to the effects of feedback, a complete understanding of galaxy evolution requires knowledge of the obscured growth of supermassive black holes through cosmic time, out to the redshifts where the first galaxies form. X-ray emission is the most reliable way to reveal accreting black holes, but deep survey speed must improve by a factor ~100 over current facilities to perform a full census into the early Universe. The Advanced Telescope for High Energy Astrophysics (Athena+) mission provides the necessary performance (e.g. angular resolution, spectral resolution, survey grasp) to address these questions and revolutionize our understanding of the Hot and Energetic Universe. These capabilities will also provide a powerful observatory to be used in all areas of astrophysics.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding the astrophysics of feedback in active galactic nuclei (AGN) is key to understanding the growth and co-evolution of supermassive black holes and galaxies. AGN-driven winds/outflows are potentially the most effective way of transporting energy and momentum from the nuclear scales to the host galaxy, quenching star formation by sweeping away the gas reservoir. Key questions in this field are: 1) how do accretion disks around black holes launch winds/outflows, and how much energy do these carry? 2) How are the energy and metals accelerated in winds/outflows transferred and deposited into the circumgalactic medium? X-ray observations are a unique way to address these questions because they probe the phase of the outflows which carries most of the kinetic energy. We show how a high throughput, high spectral resolution instrument like the X-ray Integral Field Unit (X-IFU) on Athena+ will allow us to address these questions by determining the physical parameters (ionization state, density, temperature, abundances, velocities, geometry, etc.) of the outflows on a dynamical time-scale, in a broad sample of nearby bright AGN. The X-IFU will also allow direct spectral imaging of the impact of these winds on the host galaxy for local AGN, forming a template for understanding AGN at higher redshifts where wind shocks cannot be resolved.
    06/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: After mixing in the Galactic plane, young stars are barely discernible from old ones. In the RasTyc sample we have identified several stars whose lithium content is higher than that of the Pleiades cluster members. Furthermore, four of them are concentrated, within a few degrees, inside the CO Cepheus void. They likely constitute a new young association. To discover further additional members, we used multivariate analysis methods for selecting optical and infrared counterparts of ROSAT All-Sky Survey/XMM-Newton X-ray sources cross-identified with late-type stars. From our spectroscopic observations, we distinguished two populations of lithium-rich stars that are spatially and kinematically separated. While the sources having the same lithium content as the members of the Pleiades cluster are mostly projected towards the Galactic plane, the youngest stars are mainly located in the sky area surrounding the CO Cepheus void and have an age of about 5 - 15 Myr. The latter stars have properties (age, proper motions, radial velocity, dots) rather similar to those derived for the four comoving T Tauri stars already found in this region. Thus, they form the first young association of the northern sky. The discovery of young field stars is of great importance to give new insight into the process of stellar formation outside standard star-forming regions. Further data, such as those from the future Gaia mission, will certainly shed light on this issue and on the origin of this group that could be related to the Cepheus-Cassiopeia complex, which is the closest active star-forming region.
    05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Tables 8-33 list the X-ray sources detected in the 26 different fields observed in this study, with their X-ray parameters and optical and infrared counterparts. (27 data files).
    VizieR Online Data Catalog. 03/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Many different classes of X-ray sources contribute to the Galactic landscape at high energies. Although the nature of the most luminous X-ray emitters is now fairly well understood, the population of low-to-medium X-ray luminosity (Lx = 10^27-10^34 erg/s) sources remains much less studied, our knowledge being mostly based on the observation of local members. The advent of wide field and high sensitivity X-ray telescopes such as XMM-Newton now offers the opportunity to observe this low-to-medium Lx population at large distances. We report on the results of a Galactic plane survey conducted by the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (SSC). Beyond its astrophysical goals, this survey aims at gathering a representative sample of identified X-ray sources at low latitude that can be used later on to statistically identify the rest of the serendipitous sources discovered in the Milky Way. The survey is based on 26 XMM-Newton observations, obtained at |b| < 20 deg, distributed over a large range in Galactic longitudes and covering a summed area of 4 deg2. The flux limit of our survey is 2 x 10-15 erg/cm^2/s in the soft (0.5 - 2 keV) band and 1 x 10^-14 erg/cm^2/s in the hard (2 - 12 keV) band. We detect a total of 1319 individual X-ray sources. Using optical follow-up observations supplemented by cross-correlation with a large range of multi-wavelength archival catalogues we identify 316 X-ray sources. This constitutes the largest group of spectroscopically identified low latitude X-ray sources at this flux level. The majority of the identified X-ray sources are active coronae with spectral types in the range A - M at maximum distances of ~ 1 kpc. The number of identified active stars increases towards late spectral types, reaching a maximum at K. (abridged)
    Astronomy and Astrophysics 02/2013; · 4.48 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
495.98 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • Northwestern University
      • Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics
      Evanston, Illinois, United States
  • 2004–2010
    • University Joseph Fourier - Grenoble 1
      Grenoble, Rhône-Alpes, France
  • 2001–2003
    • Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
      Arching, Bavaria, Germany
  • 1998–1999
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      University Park, Maryland, United States