From ultraluminous X-ray sources to ultraluminous supersoft sources: NGC 55 ULX, the missing link

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Soria, R 
Middleton, MJ 
Walton, DJ 

In recent work with high-resolution reflection grating spectrometers (RGS) aboard XMM–Newton, Pinto et al. have discovered that two bright and archetypal ultraluminous X-ray sources (ULXs) have strong relativistic winds in agreement with theoretical predictions of high accretion rates. It has been proposed that such winds can become optically thick enough to block and reprocess the disc X-ray photons almost entirely, making the source appear as a soft thermal emitter or ultraluminous supersoft X-ray source (ULS). To test this hypothesis, we have studied a ULX where the wind is strong enough to cause significant absorption of the hard X-ray continuum: NGC 55 ULX. The RGS spectrum of NGC 55 ULX shows a wealth of emission and absorption lines blueshifted by significant fractions of the light speed (0.01–0.20)c indicating the presence of a powerful wind. The wind has a complex dynamical structure with the ionization state increasing with the outflow velocity, which may indicate launching from different regions of the accretion disc. The comparison with other ULXs such as NGC 1313 X-1 and NGC 5408 X-1 suggests that NGC 55 ULX is being observed at higher inclination. The wind partly absorbs the source flux above 1 keV, generating a spectral drop similar to that observed in ULSs. The softening of the spectrum at lower (~ Eddington) luminosities and the detection of a soft lag agree with the scenario of wind clumps crossing the line of sight, partly absorbing and reprocessing the hard X-rays from the innermost region.

accretion, accretion discs, X-rays: binaries, X-rays: individual: NGC 55 ULX1, XMMU J001528.9-391319
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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Oxford University Press
European Research Council (340442)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/N000927/1)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/N004027/1)
This work is based on observations obtained with XMM–Newton, an ESA science mission funded by ESA Member States and USA (NASA). We also acknowledge support from European Research Council Advanced Grant Feedback 340442. HE acknowledges support from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) through studentship grant ST/K501979/1. TPR acknowledges funding from STFC as part of the consolidated grant ST/L00075X/1. DJW and MJM acknowledge support from STFC via an Ernest Rutherford advanced grant.