Volume 391, Number 3, September I 2002
|Page(s)||923 - 944|
|Published online||09 August 2002|
The Milky Way in X-rays for an outside observer
Log(N)-Log(S) and luminosity function of X-ray binaries from RXTE/ASM data
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Karl-Schwarzschild-Str. 1, 85748 Garching, Germany
2 Space Research Institute, Moscow, Russia
Corresponding author: H.-J. Grimm, firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 3 June 2002
We study the Log(N)–Log(S) and X-ray luminosity function in the 2–10 keV energy band, and the spatial (3-D) distribution of bright, erg s-1, X-ray binaries in the Milky Way. In agreement with theoretical expectations and earlier results we found significant differences between the spatial distributions of low (LMXB) and high (HMXB) mass X-ray binaries. The volume density of LMXB sources peaks strongly at the Galactic Bulge whereas HMXBs tend to avoid the inner ~ kpc of the Galaxy. In addition HMXBs are more concentrated towards the Galactic Plane (scale heights of ≈ and ≈ pc for HMXB and LMXB correspondingly) and show clear signatures of the spiral structure in their spatial distribution. The Log(N)–Log(S) distributions and the X-ray luminosity functions are also noticeably different. LMXB sources have a flatter Log(N)–Log(S) distribution and luminosity function. The integrated 2–10 keV luminosities of all X-ray binaries in the Galaxy, averaged over 1996–2000, are ~ (LMXB) and ~ (HMXB) erg s-1. Normalised to the stellar mass and the star formation rate, respectively, these correspond to ~ erg s for LMXBs and ~ erg s-1/( yr-1) for HMXBs. Due to the shallow slopes of the luminosity functions the integrated emission of X-ray binaries is dominated by the ~5–10 most luminous sources which determine the appearance of the Milky Way in the standard X-ray band for an outside observer. In particular variability of individual sources or an outburst of a bright transient source can increase the integrated luminosity of the Milky Way by as much as a factor of ~. Although the average LMXB luminosity function shows a break near the Eddington luminosity for a 1.4 neutron star, at least 12 sources showed episodes of super-Eddington luminosity during ASM observations. We provide the maps of distribution of X-ray binaries in the Milky Way in various projections, which can be compared to images of nearby galaxies taken by CHANDRA and XMM-Newton.
Key words: X-rays: binaries / X-rays: galaxies / Galaxy: general / Galaxy: structure / galaxies: spiral / stars: luminosity function
© ESO, 2002
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