Galactic Sources Detected in the NuSTAR Serendipitous Survey

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Astrophysical Journal, Supplement Series


The Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) provides an improvement in sensitivity at energies above 10 keV by two orders of magnitude over non-focusing satellites, making it possible to probe deeper into the Galaxy and universe. Lansbury and collaborators recently completed a catalog of 497 sources serendipitously detected in the 3-24 keV band using 13 deg2 of NuSTAR coverage. Here, we report on an optical and X-ray study of 16 Galactic sources in the catalog. We identify 8 of them as stars (but some or all could have binary companions), and use information from Gaia to report distances and X-ray luminosities for 3 of them. There are 4 CVs or CV candidates, and we argue that NuSTAR J233426-2343.9 is a relatively strong CV candidate based partly on an X-ray spectrum from XMM-Newton. NuSTAR J092418-3142.2, which is the brightest serendipitous source in the Lansbury catalog, and NuSTAR J073959-3147.8 are low-mass X-ray binary candidates, but it is also possible that these 2 sources are CVs. One of the sources is a known high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB), and NuSTAR J105008-5958.8 is a new HMXB candidate that has strong Balmer emission lines in its optical spectrum and a hard X-ray spectrum. We discuss the implications of finding these HMXBs for the surface density (log N-log S) and luminosity function of Galactic HMXBs. We conclude that with the large fraction of unclassified sources in the Galactic plane detected by NuSTAR in the 8-24 keV band, there could be a significant population of low-luminosity HMXBs.

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