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E.J.M. Colbert, R.F. Mushotzky (NASA/GSFC)
We have found compact X-ray sources in the center of 21 (54%) of 39 nearby face-on spiral and elliptical galaxies with available ROSAT HRI data. ROSAT X-ray luminosities (0.2 - 2.4 keV) of these compact X-ray sources are ~1037-1040 erg~s-1 (with a mean of 3 \times 1039 erg~s-1). The mean displacement between the location of the compact X-ray source and the optical photometric center of the galaxy is ~390 pc. The fact that compact nuclear sources were found in nearly all (five of six) galaxies with previous evidence for a black hole or an AGN indicates that at least some of the X-ray sources are accreting supermassive black holes. ASCA spectra of six of the 21 galaxies show the presence of a hard component with relatively steep (\Gamma \approx 2.5) spectral slope. A multicolor disk blackbody model fits the data from the spiral galaxies well, suggesting that the X-ray object in these galaxies may be similar to a Black Hole Candidate in its soft (high) state. ASCA data from the elliptical galaxies indicate that hot (kT \approx 0.7 keV) gas dominates the emission. The fact that (for both spiral and elliptical galaxies) the spectral slope is steeper than in normal type 1 AGNs and that relatively low absorbing columns (NH \approx 1021 cm-2) were found to the power-law component indicates that these objects are somehow geometrically and/or physically different from AGNs in normal active galaxies. The X-ray sources in the spiral and elliptical galaxies may be black hole X-ray binaries, low-luminosity AGNs, or possibly young X-ray luminous supernovae. Assuming the sources in the spiral galaxies are accreting black holes in their soft state, we estimate black hole masses ~102-104 M\odot.
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