Near-Infrared Counterparts to Chandra X-ray Sources toward the Galactic Center. I. Statistics and a Catalog of Candidates

Mauerhan, Jon C.
Muno, Michael P.
Morris, Mark R.
Bauer, Franz E.
Nishiyama, Shogo
Nagata, Tetsuya
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We present a catalog of 5184 candidate infrared counterparts to X-ray sources detected towards the Galactic center. The X-ray sample contains 9017 point sources detected in this region by the Chandra X-ray Observatory, including data from a recent deep survey of the central 2 x 0.8 deg of the Galactic plane. A total of 6760 of these sources have hard X-ray colors, and the majority of them lie near the Galactic center, while most of the remaining 2257 soft X-ray sources lie in the foreground. We cross-correlated the X-ray source positions with the 2MASS and SIRIUS near-infrared catalogs, which collectively contain stars with a 10-sigma limiting flux of K_s<=15.6 mag. In order to distinguish absorbed infrared sources near the Galactic center from those in the foreground, we defined red and blue sources as those which have H-K_s>=0.9 and <=0.9 mag, respectively. We find that 5.8(1.5)% of the hard X-ray sources have real infrared counterparts, of which 228(99) are red and 166(27) are blue. The red counterparts are probably comprised of WR/O stars, HMXBs, and symbiotics near the Galactic center. We also find that 39.4(1.0)% of the soft X-ray sources have blue infrared counterparts; most of these are probably coronally active dwarfs in the foreground. There is a noteworthy collection of ~20 red counterparts to hard X-ray sources near the Sagittarius-B H II region, which are probably massive binaries that have formed within the last several Myr. For each of the infrared matches to X-ray sources in our catalog we derived the probability that the association is real, based on the results of the cross-correlation analysis. The catalog will serve spectroscopic surveys to identify infrared counterparts to X-ray sources near the Galactic center.
Comment: Submitted to ApJ January 16, 2009; accepted July 21, 2009; 30 pages, 6 figures
Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies