Luminous X-ray flares from low-mass X-ray binary candidates in the early-type galaxy NGC 4697

Gregory R. Sivakoff, Craig L. Sarazin, Andrés Jordán

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25 Scopus citations


We report results of the first search specifically targeting short-timescale X-ray flares from low-mass X-ray binaries in an early-type galaxy. A new method for flare detection is presented. In NGC 4697, the nearest, optically luminous. X-ray-faint elliptical galaxy, three out of 157 sources are found to display flares at>99.95% probability, and all show more than one flare. Two sources are coincident with globular clusters and show flare durations and luminosities similar to (but larger than) type I X-ray superbursts found in Galactic neutron star (NS) X-ray binaries (XRBs). The third source shows more extreme flares. Its flare luminosity (∼6 × 1039 ergs s-1) is very super-Eddington for an NS and is similar to the peak luminosities of the brightest Galactic black hole (BH) XRBs. However, the flare duration (∼70 s) is much shorter than are typically seen for outbursts reaching those luminosities in Galactic BH sources. Alternative models for the flares are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L17-L20
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - 1 May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Binaries: close
  • Galaxies: elliptical and lenticular, cD
  • Galaxies: individual (NGC 4697)
  • X-rays: Binaries
  • X-rays: bursts
  • X-rays: galaxies


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