An Ultra-deep Chandra Catalog of X-ray Point Sources in the Galactic Center Star Cluster [HEAP]

We present an updated catalog of X-ray point sources in the inner 500$\arcsec$ ($\sim$20 parsec) of the Galactic Center (GC), where the {\it nuclear star cluster} (NSC) stands, based on a total of $\sim$4.5 Ms of {\it Chandra} observations taken from September 1999 to April 2013. This ultra-deep dataset offers unprecedented sensitivity for detecting X-ray sources in the GC, down to an intrinsic 2–10 keV luminosity of $1.0\times10^{31}{\rm~erg~s^{-1}}$. A total of 3619 sources are detected in the 2–8 keV band, among which $\sim$3500 are probable GC sources and $\sim$1300 are new identifications. The GC sources collectively account for $\sim$20\% of the total 2–8 keV flux from the inner 250$\arcsec$ region where detection sensitivity is the greatest. Taking advantage of this unprecedented sample of faint X-ray sources that primarily traces the old stellar populations in the NSC, we revisit global source properties, including long-term variability, cumulative spectra, luminosity function and spatial distribution. Based on the equivalent width and relative strength of the iron lines, we suggest that in addition to the arguably predominant population of magnetic cataclysmic variables (CVs), non-magnetic CVs contribute substantially to the detected sources, especially in the lower-luminosity group. On the other hand, the X-ray sources have a radial distribution closely following the stellar mass distribution in the NSC, but much flatter than that of the known X-ray transients, which are presumably low-mass X-ray binaries (LMXBs) caught in outburst. This, together with the very modest long-term variability of the detected sources, strongly suggests that quiescent LMXBs are a minor ($\lesssim$ a few percent) population.

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Z. Zhu, Z. Li and M. Morris
Thu, 15 Feb 18

Comments: 46 pages, 23 figures, accepted to ApJS