XMM-Newton observations of NGC 253: Resolving the emission components in the disk and nuclear area

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • W Pietsch
  • TP Roberts
  • M Sako
  • MJ Freyberg
  • KN Borozdin
  • G Branduardi-Raymont
  • M Cappi
  • M Ehle
  • P Ferrando
  • SM Kahn
  • A Ptak
  • RE Shirey
  • M Ward

Colleges, School and Institutes


We describe the first XMM-Newton observations of the starburst galaxy NGC 253. As known from previous X-ray observations, NGC 253 shows a mixture of extended (disk and halo) and point-source emission. The high XMM-Newton throughput allows a detailed investigation of the spatial, spectral and variability properties of these components simultaneously. We characterize the brightest sources by their hardness ratios, detect a bright X-ray transient similar to 70" SSW of the nucleus, and show the spectrum and light curve of the brightest point source ( similar to 30" SSW of the nucleus, most likely a black-hole X-ray binary, BHXRB). The unresolved emission of two disk regions can be modeled by two thin thermal plasma components (temperatures of similar to0.13 and 0.4 keV) plus residual harder emission: with the lower temperature component originating from above the disk. The nuclear spectrum can be modeled by a three temperature plasma (similar to0.6, 0.9, and 6 keV) with the higher temperatures increasingly absorbed. The high temperature component most likely originates from the starburst nucleus, as no non-thermal component, that would point at a significant contribution from an active nucleus (AGN), is needed. Assuming that typeIIa supernova remnants (SNRs) are mostly responsible for the E > 4 keV emission, the detection with EPIC of the 6.7 keV line allows us to estimate a supernova rate within the nuclear starburst of 0.2 yr(-1) The unprecedented combination of RGS and EPIC also sheds new light on the emission of the complex nuclear region, the X-ray plume and the disk diffuse emission. In particular, EPIC images reveal that the limb-brightening of the plume is mostly seen in higher ionization emission lines, while in the lower ionization lines, and below 0.5 keV, the plume is more homogeneously structured. The plume spectrum can again be modeled by a three temperature thermal plasma containing the two low temperature nuclear components (though less absorbed) plus an unabsorbed 0.15 keV component similar to the disk spc ci-ra. This points to new interpretations as to the make up of the starburst-driven outflow.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2001


  • galaxies : starburst, galaxies : individual : NGC 253, X-rays : galaxies, interstellar medium : jets and outflows, galaxies : spiral