The X-Ray Binary Population of the Nearby Dwarf Starburst Galaxy IC 10: Variable and Transient X-Ray Sources
We have monitored the Cassiopeia dwarf galaxy (IC 10) in a series of 10 Chandra ACIS-S observations to capture its variable and transient X-ray source population, which is expected to be dominated by High Mass X-ray Binaries (HMXBs). We present a sample of 21 X-ray sources that are variable between observations at the 3σ level, from a catalog of 110 unique point sources. We find four transients (flux variability ratio greater than 10) and a further eight objects with ratios >5. The observations span the years 2003-2010 and reach a limiting luminosity of >1035 erg s-1, providing sensitivity to X-ray binaries in IC 10 as well as flare stars in the foreground Milky Way. The nature of the variable sources is investigated from light curves, X-ray spectra, energy quantiles, and optical counterparts. The purpose of this study is to discover the composition of the X-ray binary population in a young starburst environment. IC 10 provides a sharp contrast in stellar population age (<10 My) when compared to the Magellanic Clouds (40-200 My) where most of the known HMXBs reside. We find 10 strong HMXB candidates, 2 probable background Active Galactic Nuclei, 4 foreground flare-stars or active binaries, and 5 not yet classifiable sources. Complete classification of the sample requires optical spectroscopy for radial velocity analysis and deeper X-ray observations to obtain higher S/N spectra and search for pulsations. A catalog and supporting data set are provided.