X-ray observations of the edge-on spiral galaxy NGC891 and its supernova SN1986J

RF Temple, Somak Raychaudhury, Ian Stevens

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We present XMM-Newton observations of NGC 891, a nearby edge-on spiral galaxy. We analyse the extent of the diffuse emission emitted from the disc of the galaxy, and find that it has a single-temperature profile with best-fitting temperature of 0.26 keV, though the fit of a dual-temperature plasma with temperatures of 0.08 and 0.30 keV is also acceptable. There is a considerable amount of diffuse X-ray emission protruding from the disc in the north-west direction out to approximately 6 kpc. We analyse the point-source population using a Chandra observation, using a maximum-likelihood method to find that the slope of the cumulative luminosity function of point sources in the galaxy is -0.77(-0.1)(+0.13). Using a sample of other local galaxies, we compare the X-ray and infrared properties of NGC 891 with those of 'normal' and starburst spiral galaxies, and conclude that NGC 891 is most likely a starburst galaxy in a quiescent state. We establish that the diffuse X-ray luminosity of spirals scales with the far-infrared luminosity as L(X)proportional to L-FIR(0.87 +/- 0.07), except for extreme starbursts, and NGC 891 does not fall in the latter category. We study the supernova SN1986J in both XMM-Newton and Chandra observations, and find that the X-ray luminosity has been declining with time more steeply than expected (L(X)proportional to t(-3)).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-591
Number of pages11
JournalRoyal Astronomical Society. Monthly Notices
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2005


  • X-rays : diffuse background
  • galaxies : starburst
  • galaxies : individual : NGC 891
  • X-rays : galaxies
  • supernovae : individual : SN1986J


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