Investigating super-Eddington accretion flows in Ultraluminous X-ray sources

University essay from Luleå tekniska universitet/Rymdteknik

Abstract: It is now widely known that most of the large galaxies we observe (e.g. the Milky Way) host in their center a supermassive black hole ($10^{6}-10^{9}$ $M_\odot$). Several relationships between the central black hole mass and the properties of the stars in the central part of the galaxy have been established in the past 3 decades indicating that the central black hole is able to efficiently structure the matter around it due to episodes of accretion of matter onto the black hole. Recent infrared and optical sky surveys have detected supermassive black holes with masses around $10^{8-9}$ $M_\odot$ when the universe was less than a tenth of its current age and current theories have difficulties explaining how such massive objects could have formed over such short timescales. The goal of the present work is to shed light on the properties of a still largely unknown extreme accretion regime, the so called super-Eddington accretion regime. If such accretion regime could be sustained over sufficient timescales, it could play an important role in both the rapid growth of supermassive black holes as well as its co-evolution with its host galaxy. The aim of this work is therefore to apply high resolution spectroscopy to Ultraluminous X-ray sources in order to identify narrow spectral features to derive constrains on the outflows expected from super-Eddington accreting sources using data from the XMM-Newton observatory. For this purpose I developed a framework to analyse low count background dominated spectra that uses a Monte Carlo approach to detect these narrow features. After analysis of the source Holmberg II X-1, I identify 7 unresolved discrete features with a 3$\sigma$ confidence level that can be tentatively identified with ionic species. Furthermore, the instrumental resolution allows us to put upper limits on the broadening of the lines. This findings will allow us to probe the properties of the outflows of the super-Eddington regime and by extending the analysis to other sources we will able to characterize the observational properties of this accretion regime.

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