Exploring the nature of the brightest hyper-luminous X-ray source

S. A. Farrell, M. Servillat, K. Wiersema, D. Barret, O. Godet, I. Heywood, T. J. Maccarone, S. R. Oates, B. Plazolles, N. A. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The small subset of hyper-luminous X-ray sources with luminosities in excess of ~1041 erg s-1 are hard to explain without the presence of an intermediate mass black hole, as significantly super-Eddington accretion and/or very small beaming angles are required. The recent discovery of HLX-1, the most luminous object in this class with a record breaking luminosity of ~1042 erg s-1 in the galaxy ESO 243-49, therefore currently provides some of the strongest evidence for the existence of intermediate mass black holes. HLX-1 is almost an order of magnitude brighter than the other hyperluminous sources, and appears to exhibit X-ray spectral and flux variability similar to Galactic stellar mass black hole X-ray binaries. In this paper we review the current state of knowledge on this intriguing source and outline the results of multi-wavelength studies from radio to ultra-violet wavelengths, including imaging and spectroscopy of the recently identified optical counterpart obtained with the Very Large Telescope. These results continue to support an intermediate mass black hole in excess of 500 M.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-397
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomische Nachrichten
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • Accretion, accretion disks
  • X-rays: binaries
  • X-rays: individual (ESO 243-49 HLX-1)


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