Discovery of X-ray flaring activity in the arches cluster

R. Capelli, R. S. Warwick, N. Cappelluti, S. Gillessen, P. Predehl, D. Porquet, S. Czesla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Context. We present a study of the Arches cluster based on XMM-Newton observations performed over the past 8 years. Unexpectedly, we find that the X-ray emission associated with the cluster experienced a marked brightening in March/April 2007. Aims. We investigate the origin of both the X-ray continuum emission emanating from the star cluster and the flare. Methods. To study the time variability of the total X-ray flux, we stacked the PN and MOS data of observations performed within a time interval of a few days leading to the detection of the flaring episode. We then constructed two spectral datasets, one corresponding to the flare interval (March/April 2007) and another to the normal quiescent state of the source. Results. The X-ray light curve of the Arches cluster shows, with high significance (8.6σ), a 70% increase in the X-ray emission in the March/April 2007 timeframe followed by a decline over the following year to the pre-flare level; the short-term duration of the flare is constrained to be longer than four days. The temperature and the line-of-sight column density inferred from the flare spectrum do not differ from those measured in the normal activity state of the cluster, suggesting that the flux enhancement is thermal in origin. Conclusions. We attribute the X-ray variability to in situ stellar activity: early-type stars may be responsible for the flare via wind collisions, whereas late-type stars may contribute by means of magnetic reconnection. These two possibilities are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL2
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jan 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • X-rays: stars
  • galaxy: center
  • stars: flare

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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