Chandra monitoring observations of the antennae galaxies. II. Ray luminosity functions

A Zezas, G Fabbiano, A Baldi, F Schweizer, AR King, AH Rots, Trevor Ponman

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31 Citations (Scopus)


We present the X-ray luminosity functions (XLFs) of the X-ray source population detected in the Chandra monitoring observations of NGC 4038/4039 (the Antennae). The seven individual XLFs are well described by a flat power law with a cumulative slope alpha similar to 0.5-0.8. A similar slope ( similar to = 0.48(-0.08)(+0.09)) is measured for the sources detected in the co-added observation, which reaches a limiting luminosity of similar to 10(37) erg s(-1). In our analysis we account for observational biases by deriving incompleteness functions and including them in the fitting process. We do not detect significant variations between the shape of the XLF of the seven observations. The two shorter exposures appear to have steeper XLFs, but these are still consistent with the other observations. These results indicate that the XLFs of star-forming galaxies are indeed flatter than those of more evolved stellar populations, even down to the typical luminosities of X-ray binaries. Based on this, as well as the X-ray variability and spectral properties of the X-ray sources, we suggest that the observed population down to our detection limit consists predominantly of X-ray binaries accreting close to their Eddington limit, similar to the high or very high states of Galactic X-ray binaries. In the case of ultraluminous X-ray sources (L-X > 10(39) erg s(-1)), we cannot rule out the contribution of a beamed component (because of either mechanical focusing or Doppler boosting) in their observed emission. However, even without beaming, we estimate that the maximum observed luminosity (L-X similar to 10(40) erg s(-1)) could be produced by a similar to 80 M-circle dot black hole accreting at its Eddington limit; such black holes can be the result of regular stellar evolution of double stellar systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-148
Number of pages14
JournalThe Astrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2007


  • galaxies : peculiar
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • galaxies : interactions


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