We have examined resolved stellar photometry from HST imaging surrounding 18 high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) candidates in NGC 300 and NGC 2403 as determined from combined Chandra/HST analysis. We have fit the color-magnitude distribution of the surrounding stars with stellar evolution models. All but one region in NGC 300 and two in NGC 2403 contain a population with an age between 20 and 70 Myr. One of the candidates is the ultraluminous X-ray source in NGC 2403, which we associate with a 60 ± 5 Myr old population. These age distributions provide additional evidence that 16 of these 18 candidates are HMXBs. Furthermore, our results suggest that the most common HMXB age in these galaxies is 40-55 Myr. This preferred age is similar to observations of HMXBs in the Small Magellanic Cloud, providing new evidence of this formation timescale, but in higher metallicity populations. We suggest that this preferred HMXB age is the result of the fortuitous combination of two physical effects. First, this is the age of a population when the greatest rate of core-collapse events should be occurring, maximizing neutron star production. Second, this is the age when B stars are most likely to be actively losing mass. We also discuss our results in the context of HMXB feedback in galaxies, confirming HMXBs as a potentially important source of energy for the interstellar medium in low-mass galaxies.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science