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Characterisation of the X-ray point source variability in the eROSITA south ecliptic pole field

David BogensbergerKirpal NandraMara Salvato ...+10 Mirko Krumpe
Jan 2024
Aims: During the Spectrum Roentgen Gamma (SRG)/ eROSITA all-sky surveys, X-ray sources close to the South Ecliptic Pole (SEP) are observed almost every 4 hours. We aim to identify the sources exhibiting the most significant long-term X-ray variability within 3 degrees of the SEP in the first three surveys, and investigate their properties. Methods: We determined the variability significance of all sources observed by eROSITA within 3 degrees of the SEP by using thresholds on the Bayesian excess variance (SCATT_LO) and the maximum amplitude deviation (AMPL_SIG). Sources exhibiting a variability significance above $3\sigma$ were subdivided into likely Galactic and extragalactic sources, by using spectral and photometric information of their optical counterparts. We quantified the X-ray normalised excess variances of all variable sources, and also calculated the periodograms of the brightest ones. Results: Out of more than $10^4$ X-ray sources detected by eROSITA within 3 degrees of the SEP, we identified 453 that exhibit significant X-ray variability. SCATT_LO is significantly more sensitive to detecting variable sources in this field, but AMPL_SIG helps provide a more complete variability sample. Of those variable sources, 168 were classified as likely extragalactic, and 235 as likely Galactic. The periodograms of most bright and variable extragalactic sources are approximately described by an aliased power law ($P\propto\nu^{-\alpha}$) with an index of $\alpha\approx 1$. We identified a potential tidal disruption event, and long-term transient sources. The stellar X-ray variability was predominantly caused by bright X-ray flares from coronally active stars.
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