Recurring X-ray Outbursts in the Supernova Impostor SN~2010da in NGC~300 [HEAP]

We present new observations of the “supernova impostor” SN 2010da using the Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. During the initial 2010 outburst, the 0.3-10 keV luminosity was observed by Swift to be $\sim5\times10^{38}$ erg s$^{-1}$ and faded by a factor of $\sim$25 in a four month period. Our two new Chandra observations show a factor of $\sim$10 increase in the 0.35-8 keV X-ray flux, from $\sim$4$\times10^{36}$ erg s$^{-1}$ to $4\times10^{37}$ erg s$^{-1}$ in $\sim$6 months, and the X-ray spectrum is consistent in both observations with a power law photon index of $\Gamma\sim0$. We find evidence of X-ray spectral state changes: when SN 2010da is in a high-luminosity state, the X-ray spectrum is harder ($\Gamma\sim0$) compared to the low-luminosity state ($\Gamma\sim1.2\pm0.8$). Using our Hubble observations, we fit the color magnitude diagram of the coeval stellar population to estimate a time since formation of the SN 2010da progenitor system of $\lesssim$5 Myr. Our observations are consistent with SN 2010da being a high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) composed of a neutron star and a luminous blue variable-like companion, although we cannot rule out the possibility that SN 2010da is an unusually X-ray bright massive star. The $\lesssim$5 Myr age is consistent with the theoretically predicted delay time between the formation of a massive binary and the onset of the HMXB phase. It is possible that the initial 2010 outburst marked the beginning of X-ray production in the system, making SN 2010da possibly the first massive progenitor binary ever observed to evolve into an HMXB.

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B. Binder, B. Williams, A. Kong, et. al.
Tue, 12 Jan 16

Comments: 8 pages, accepted to MNRAS